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The Door That Faced West Paperback – 1 Feb 2014
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About the Author
ALAN M. CLARK, an author and illustrator, grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. He is the author of seventeen published books, including ten novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. As a visual artist, he has created illustrations for hundreds of books, including works of fiction of various genres, nonfiction, textbooks, young adult fiction, and children's books. Awards for his work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This is the third book by Alan Clark that I have read and loved. Clark is solid in my book now, I am sure I will buy and read whatever he releases at this point with confidence that I will enjoy it. I recommend The Door That Faced West to fans of Joe Lansdale's westerns as well as Cormac McCarthy and William Gay. Great stuff.
The book chronicles the lives of the Harpe brothers, who have been called America's first serial killers, and the three women who traveled with them. The author makes the standard disclaimer that names have been changed, details have been created, even entire scenarios have been created, etc., but I have no doubt this book rings remarkably close to the truth. And that's what hit me so hard when I finished the book. There have always been people like the murderous Harpe brothers, and there always will be. That's a frightening and sobering thought.
It's a testament to Mr. Clark's talent as a writer that he can bring not only the people to life so convincingly, but the time period as well. The novel is told through the eyes of Sadie Rice, who falls in with the men as an escape from her abusive father. On her first night with the brothers she loses her virginity to one of them, and it's not portrayed as a horrible, melodramatic tragedy; it's just something that happened. And so it goes in her life with the Harpes- things just happen. Horrible, brutal, violent things happen ; people are murdered for no more reason than they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Sadie justifies it all in her mind as something she has to endure because a woman in the wild frontier needs strong men to protect her.
It's a frightening portrayal of just how arbitrary the concept of safety is. There are people just like the Harpes alive today, and if you met up with them, you'd most likely end up dead, just like most who met the Harpes at the beginning of the 18th century did. That's just how things work. And that's what made me cry.
This doesn't sound very attractive for a book, does it? Well, this is one hell of a book. It's captivating. It's engrossing. You'll be immersed in the lives of people in the early days of the USA, and you won't be able to stop reading. I rated this thing five stars and I meant it. If you're looking for a nice, cozy little story about history like The Little House on the Prairie, you ain't going to find it here. If you think an honest look at the brutal beginnings of America, that doesn't whitewash anything or anyone, then check this out. The characters are real, and finely drawn. You'll care about some and fear others.
This is the first book I've read by Alan M. Clark, but it won't be the last.