Beware of Southerners Bearing Gifts

41Bik09kqwL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_TIME WILL DARKEN IT
William Maxwell
Vintage Classics, 2012, RRP $14.99
First published 1948

Sometimes it is not only what a book is about but the way it is written that makes it special. Time Will Darken It is one of those. After reading the first chapter I got on the internet and ordered two more of William Maxwell’s books. I fingertip tappingly await their arrival. If a dead guy can write as well as this I want his books.

First published in 1948, Time Will Darken It is set in a small American town in 1912. It tells the sad tale of Austin King and his wife, Martha, receiving visitors from Mississippi. The Potters, mother, father, son and daughter sow the seeds of the destruction of Austin King, a decent man whose only crime was trying to keep everybody happy and doing it quietly.

The story opens with a quite scene of marital tension before a house party to welcome the Potters. In this, Maxwell gives himself the almost impossible task of introducing a myriad of characters almost at once. Any teacher of writing will tell you that is a no-no…unless you can write like William Maxwell. His words take the reader by the hand and leads him or her from room to room, catching snippets of conversations, auditioning the characters for their roles and hinting at things to come.

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