For her acclaimed collection of stories, Red Ant House, Joyce Carol Oates hailed Ann Cummins as a master storyteller. The San Francisco Chronicle called her startlingly original. Now, in her debut novel, Cummins stakes claim to rich new literary territory with a story of straddling cultures and cheating fate in the American Southwest. Yellowcake introduces us to two unforgettable familiesone Navajo, one Anglosome thirty years after the closing of the uranium mill near which they once made their homes. When little Becky Atcitty shows up on the Mahoneys doorstep all grown up, the past comes crashing in on Ryland and his lively brood. Becky, the daughter of one of the Navajo mill workers Ryland had supervised, is now involved in a group seeking damages for those harmed by the radioactive dust that contaminated their world. But Ryland wants no part of dredging up their pastor acknowledging his future. When his wife joins the cause, the messy, modern lives of this eclectic cast of characters collide once again, testing their mettle, stretching their faith, and reconnecting past and present in unexpected new ways. Finely crafted, deeply felt, and bursting with heartache and hilarity, Yellowcake is a moving story of how everyday people sort their way through life, with all its hidden hazards.
They come at ten oclock in the morning. Rylands wife, Rosy, is at the
fabric store with their daughter, Maggie, whos getting married next month.
Ryland goes ahead and opens the door against his better judgment. He always
opens the door when somebody rings, though he usually regrets it. He is not
afraid of muggers. Muggers, he figures, will leave sooner rather than later.
Hes afraid of the neighbor lady, Mrs. Barron, who always leaves later, and the
Mormon missionaries, who like to fight with his wife, they always leave later.
And Pretty Boy across the street, old Hal Rivers, who waters his lawn in bikini
swim trunks, parades young girls in and out, day in, day out, ladys
man, though he has a gut and a little bald pate still, the girls like him, which only goes to show that its not the looks but the pocketbook. Old Hal stopping by every now and again to chew the fat terrifies him, though Ryland makes sure the man ...
The result is a novel that is both compassionate and wise, that not only explores the legacy of radiation sickness but also illness and aging, and the misunderstandings that can arise between generations and cultures.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (984 words).
Did you know?
According to the Uranium Information Center:
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