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In 1927, a fourteen-year-old boy hops a boxcar in a dusty Texas field headed for Hollywood and life in the "flickers. " His aim is to get as far away as he can from the farm he thinks holds nothing for him. In 1947, a ten-year-old girl dreams of a real home, with a real family, far away from the crowded Los Angeles streets where her handsome father chases an impossible dream -- and where her mother holds a dark secret. In 1980, a young man comes home from the navy, not to the mother he ran away from, but to his colorful, elderly grandparents in Los Angeles -- the ones who might or might not have been a movie actor and a band singer.
This marvelous guide begins where other books on writing and the writing life leave off. Delving deep into the creative process, Bret Lott reveals truths we scarcely realized we needed to know but without which we as writers will soon lose our way. In ten intimate essays based on his own experiences and on the seasoned wisdom of writers including Eudora Welty, E. B. White, Henry David Thoreau, Henry James, and John Gardner, Lott explores such topics as * why write? why keep writing? * the importance of simple words * the finer points of character detail * narrative and the passage of time * the pitfalls of technique * making a plan--and letting it go * risking failure--and reaping the benefits * Accepting rejection. Writers travel alone, but Bret Lott's book makes the journey less lonely and infinitely more rewarding. Before We Get Started will help you make your work as good as it can be: "Pay attention recklessly. Strain to see through the window of your own artistic consciousness in the exhilarating knowledge that there is no path to the waterfall, and there are a million paths to the waterfall, and there is, too, only one path: yours."
In this long-awaited sequel to The Hunt Club, set in the swampy South Carolina Lowcountry, New York Times bestselling author Bret Lott returns with a literary page-turner about murder and family secrets. Though Dead Low Tide continues the story of Huger Dillard, this haunting work of fiction brilliantly stands on its own. No longer a teenager and now a young man, Huger must come to terms with and confront the truth about his community, his past, and the mysterious place he calls home.While most of the residents in the wealthy, historic Charleston enclave of Landgrave Hall are asleep at two-thirty in the morning, Huger Dillard and his father, "Unc," are heading, via jonboat, to the adjoining golf course. Blinded by a terrible accident that killed his wife, Unc prefers to practice his golf game when no one is watching. But before anyone can even tee off, Huger makes a grisly find: a woman's body, anchored deep in the mud at the water's low tide. The discovery sets off a chain of events that puts Huger and his family up against secret military forces, old friends, longtime neighbors, lost loves, and shadowy global networks. The only thing connecting them all is Landgrave Hall--and the treacherous reason why this area is so important to so many people.From the Hardcover edition.
In this deeply affecting, beautifully crafted collection of short fiction, Bret Lott broadens his stylistic range, striking a surprisingly surreal tone with stark, hyperrealistic prose. As story after dazzling story deliberately takes you down a deceptively ordinary path, the arresting center of each startles your unsuspecting sensibility. Among the narrative gems is "Family," in which a husband and wife bicker incessantly before realizing that their two children are missing, only to discover them in ...
Bret Lott's powerful, insightful stories illuminate the everyday episodes that move us -- husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighhors -- along the intricate paths of intimacy. A little boy's first bad dream brings his father back to his own childhood nights when danger lurked beneath the bed; in the California desert at night two brothers in a pickup tune into radio stations from distant places, interrupted by sudden bursts of static; estranged suburban friends become good neighbors again in the course of thwarting two thieves. Lott's previous novels, The Man Who Owned Vermont and A Stranger's House, established him as "one of the strongest voices to come along in some time" (The San Francisco Chronicle). A Dream of Old Leaves stakes out his place in the landscape of new American fiction.
It started with a body, the head of it pretty much gone, the hands skinned. We found it the Saturday after Thanksgiving, out to Hungry Neck Hunt Club. Uncle Leland owns the Hunt Club, which might make him sound important, or rich. But he's not.Huger Dillard is no ordinary fifteen-year-old from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He may not have a father to help him grow up, but day-to-day guiding of his blind Uncle Leland--Unc, for short--and weekends spent at the Hunt Club have made him an expert on the habits of deer, the pompous attorneys and doctors of nearby Charleston, and the ways of the world. But with Unc's discovery of a mutilated body, Huger suddenly learns that he is expert at nothing--least of all his own life. Everything he knows and everyone he loves--Unc, his mother, his foundering teenage romance--is at risk, and Huger must use every ounce of resourcefulness and bravery to stay alive and protect what he believes in. Yet, when he finally discovers precisely what happened that Saturday morning, there is still one more secret to uncover, this one too dark, too deep, for him to even imagine.From Bret Lott, the critically acclaimed author the Los Angeles Times called "one of the most im-portant and imaginative writers in America today," The Hunt Club is a novel of deft pacing and remark-able detail, and a sultry evocation of a land and culture that has existed for generations but soon may be lost forever.From the Hardcover edition.
In the backwoods of Mississippi, Jewel and her husband are truly blessed; they have five fine children. When Brenda Kay is born in 1943, Jewel gives thanks for a healthy baby, last-born and most welcome. Jewel is the story of how quickly a life can change; how an unforeseen event can set us on a course without reason or compass. In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty, and one of the finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction.
When Rick Wheeler's wife walks out on him, he nearly drowns in despair. So the RC Cola salesman throws himself into work -- setting sales records, winning a promotion, burying himself in the lonely present while he scours the past for hope. Then at last on a cold Vermont morning, a hunter and his prey show him unexpectedly, haltingly, the way back to love and faith.
Hugh and Laura Walker could never have anticipated that the single greatest source of joy in their lives could so suddenly fill them with such unrelenting grief. The death of their only child, seven-year-old Michael -- struck by a car just seconds after stepping off his school bus -- has left them stranded in a sea of sorrow. With no emotional compass to guide them, the Walkers retreat to an old cottage near Cape May, New Jersey, where, separated from the daily reminders of their numbing loss, they hope to reenter the world of the living.But lurking just below their sanity and resolve are memories -- not only of the simple joy that Michael brought to their lives, but also of the horror of his fatal accident. Buffeted by the conflicting winds of mourning and renewal, the Walkers see the once-solid foundation of their marriage begin to loosen. And Laura harbors a secret -- one essential to her self-preservation, but which could destroy all she and Hugh have ever been to each other. Reed's Beach weaves domestic tragedy with a strikingly original thriller of the heart, revealing the truths hidden deep within each of us, while holding out the elusive promise of love and hope.
Inspired by the Biblical story from the book of Ruth, this novel is a beautiful exploration of the power of love and family, of the ravages of grief and regret, and of the strength of the mother-daughter bond.
For a long time, Claire and Tom Templeton have wished in vain for a child. What they have instead is a house, a charming old Cape that is their consolation. In the gray chill of a Massachusetts autumn, the Templetons and two local handymen, loners and eccentrics, work to rebuild the ramshackle home. As the house takes on a new life, Claire begins to understand its tangled history -- and to reconcile her own past and renew her hope for the future.
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