There's something else as well; this is the first novel I've ever read in my life which is more inside rock and roll than about it; through the eyes of Leroy Kirby, Mark Childress has made the mad early days of rock and roll seem not just comphrensible but inevitable. Beneath the cool prose line of this minimalist epic there is the same raw and feverish drive that propelled the early rockabilly stars as they created a new kind of music. Childress's understanding and love of this new music lends Tender the sort of piney woods authenticity I associate with such American classics as Elmer Gantry and All The King's Men.
If you care about rock and roll, Tender is going to knock your socks off. This is a great novel, and as Childress documents the meteoric rise of his talented child-monster-prodigy, Leroy Kirby, he never misses a beat.
-- Stephen King
Mark Childress is the author of seven novels: A World Made of Fire, V for Victor, Tender, Crazy in Alabama, Gone for Good, One Mississippi, and Georgia Bottoms. He lives in Key West, Florida.
-- Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird
The sense of reality with which Childress imbues his characters and their situation is remarkable. He has the true novelist's ability to commit himself entirely to the people and events he envisions, and this is rare; the reader is certain at all points that the author is not playing with the subject, but writing from deep within it. A truly outstanding book is the result.
-- James Dickey
A World Made of Fire is earthy, adroit, moving -- an excellent novel by a writer of great promise and talent.
-- Jesse Hill Ford
Mark Childress is a young novelist who has written a memorable story out of the land and people of the Deep South that throughout its length is constantly intruguing with unexpected innovations. The ever-present undercurrent of mystical events will probably startle many readers by arousing and bringing forth unfamiliar emotions.
-- Erskine Caldwell
A wonderful and powerful novel...Childress's debut in the world of fiction is a cause to be celebrated; he is the real thing.
-- Pat Conroy
Mark Childress's new-fashioned saga is full of delicate electricity and raw power.
-- Barry Hannah
This is a damned fine story. There is more here than story, though. This baby resonates. Mark Childress is a writer of almost uncanny stylistic ability and clear vision. His eye for detail is extraordinary. It makes you want to holler Oh yeah! like a guy who's gotten religion at a riverside camp meeting. It's close; it's luxurious in its rightness; it fulfills the central demand of art...to make us see more in what we always thought we were seeing.
-- Stephen King
A haunting first novel...There is a clear light of genuine story-telling talent shining through it all.
-- Library Journal
In an impressive debut, Childress has produced a spellbinding tale in the Southern gothic tradition. A writer of poetic acuity, he evokes the atmospher of a small Southern town and brings its inhabitants to life through their colorful, softly cadenced speech. Childress's remarkable command of language -- he uses imagery with sensuous skill -- his sure sense of plot, fueled by mysticism and mystery, and most of all, his beautifully nuanced depiction of Stella's coming of age, will keep readers enthralled.
-- Publishers Weekly
That rarest of finds, an unsentimental coming-of-age story, A World Made of Fire is also an engrossing mystery. Wrapped in its tale of voodoo and midnight rides is a detailed bestiary of human emotions and behaviors.
San Francisco Chronicle
Mark Childress's first novel is a complex allegory of pagan magic and Christian retribution... Mr. Childress writes his haunting novel with poetic cadences in brief, intense chapters. He is an author of imagination. Stella's coming of age in grief and loneliness is drawn wtih graceful authenticity.
-- Valerie Miner, The New York Times Book Review
A startlingly original first novel. Not only do a great many marvelous things happen, they do so in a time and place so untapped that Childress is able to claim the territory as his alone. He has marked himself, at the tender age of twenty-six, as a major new fictional voice.
-- Bruce van Wyngarden, Saturday Review
-- Marianne Gingher, New York Times Book Review
"A crackling good adventure is tough to pull off, but Mark Childress has done just this and he's done it brilliantly. From his lyrical opening passages, which evoke the softness of adolescent innocence, right up through his explosive finale, he never lets us come up for air. And we never want to. Think of the Hardy Boys if you will, but also think of Harper Lee, and early Capote. This is a yarn spun with poetry. This is storytelling at its best."
-- Peter Buckley, Vogue
"The whole 'great watery plain of Mobile Bay' is a world the author and his gangly hero know with a strong and lovely intimacy."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer