Excerpt from What the River Washed Away by Muriel Mharie Macleod, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

What the River Washed Away

by Muriel Mharie Macleod

What the River Washed Away by Muriel Mharie Macleod X
What the River Washed Away by Muriel Mharie Macleod
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2013, 288 pages
    Jul 2013, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

One thing my Mambo can do for sure is look after out back. Once when he got mad at her, Pappy said the way she was acting would make folks think she ain't good for nothing at all. But then he said he was sorry for talking like that. She said he oughta pay it no mind. He said he was glad she was good out back and always been a fine help about the place, and he was right proud of it too. Pappy and Mambo just fight all the time.

I used to go with him for chopping thin branches out back of our cabin. He said he needed a hundred and I gotta learn my counting, so he'd be sure on getting enough. We stepped out and got ten each time, so I learnt easy. Then I had to count how many he trimmed up, and how many he whittled down for sticking in the ground. That's how we got a fence out front of our cabin, like nobody else, 'cause Pappy was busy teaching me my numbers. He always said he was gonna put that fence all round his land and I'd learn half a thousand, but he got old. Grandma and Mambo just laughed.

'What land? Ain't ya land, we just dammit lucky ain't nobody come on over here throwing us o!. Ain't nobody round here own nothing. Ya just nothing but an old fool.'

Once he was gone, Mambo grabbed his stack of old newspapers and started covering up the walls of our cabin. Mixed a paste of flour and water and set about sticking them all over. Pappy always got a hold of old newspapers for learning me my letters and teaching me my reading. We were always reading news when it ain't news any more, and I know every story on them walls near enough word for word. 'Don't go pasting them up any old how Mambo. Put this here, 'longside of this. See? Them's the same story, so put them pages together, so's folks can read all about it.'

'Lord, girl. If ya head ain't just full of what nobody care nothing about. Ain't nobody coming over here reading them walls. Folks coming over here don't read nothing.'

'But they's oughta Mambo, and they's oughta learn anyways. I can teach them Mambo, just like Pappy teach me. Ain't hard Mambo. Look, they's talking about the fire down in New Orleans here, and here, so put them right next to one another so everybody can read what happened to folks and how they all get hurt, and all them houses, how they burned down, and how they's gonna raise them up again. Over here Mambo, look. Look at it, that's a real story, it really happened to folks. It did.'

'Stop with the talking. Just once, stop with the damn talking.' 'And this here's about all them trees they's gonna take from round here, Mambo. They's gonna do it, take them for the railway line and for one of them mills, 'cause cottonseed got oil, that's what they say. Listen, this one says – it's from Mansfield, that's over Desoto parish way—'


She wants to be throwing out his magazines, too, but I screamed every word I ever heard him call her. 'Whore, daughter a Babylon, voodoo queen just like ya ma, slattern,' and I don't know what else, till she dropped them magazines right in the middle of our cabin floor and thwacked me plenty. Then she washed my mouth out with the carbolic. I got to keep my magazines though. Seems she's so upset with my mouth she forgot what she was thwacking me for, I guess. Pappy was always telling me to get all the reading I can, 'cause when he was young, coloureds ain't ever get any reading at all, they ain't never allowed that. I keep all them magazines under my cot now and study them over and over again. I've read them a hundred times. I touch them just the way Pappy said, with a gentle care, so no page gets torn, 'cause the way I see it, that's the only reading I'm ever gonna get now he's gone. Except maybe the paper coming wrapped round crawfish somebody give us 'cause a mambo don't always take dimes. I read them too, so I know what's going on, even though Mambo ain't ever take me anywhere. She's too busy having herself a good time.

Excerpted from What the River Washed Away by Muriel Mharie Macleod. Copyright © 2013 by Muriel Mharie Macleod. Excerpted by permission of One World. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Marksville, Louisiana

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Call Me American
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    A hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.