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The Marrowbone Marble Company Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007359071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007359073
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 23.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,824,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


“Taylor really is in that long American tradition that starts with Mark Twain and finds its character, meaning and moral force in the extraordinariness of ordinary people.” TIME OUT

“a mesmerizing storyteller…Taylor has created a remarkably complex, soulful, and provocative historical novel righteous in its perspective on America’s struggle to live up to its core beliefs.” BOOKLIST

“He writes with the elemental force of a latterday John Steinbeck." CANBERRA TIMES

“This novel confirms the view that he is a major and original talent.” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“Splendidly Norman Rockwell-ish…It’s like watching an idealistic old movie made in pre-McCarthy Hollywood.” THE TIMES

“Marrowbone throbs with muscular Hemingway sentences, consciously biblical cadences, a plethora of imagery where almost every mundane event holds a major and marvellous message.” WEEKEND HERALD

From the Back Cover

1941. Loyal Ledford works the swing shift at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia. He courts Rachel, the boss's daughter, a company nurse with coal black hair. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked, Ledford, like so many young men of his time, sets his life on a new course.

Upon his return from service in the war, Ledford starts a family with Rachel but chafes under the authority at Mann Glass. He is a lost man, disconnected from the present and haunted by his violent past, until he meets his cousins the Bonecutter brothers. Their land, mysterious, elemental Marrowbone Cut, calls to Ledford, and it is there that The Marrowbone Marble Company is slowly forged. Over the next two decades, the factory grounds become a vanguard of the civil rights movement and a home for those intent on change. Such a home inevitably invites trouble, and Ledford must fight for his family.

Returning to the West Virginia territory of his critically acclaimed novel, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, Glenn Taylor recounts the transformative journey of a man and his community.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If I could I would award this book six stars . Quite simply the best I have read in months and possibly the best I have read in years .
Glenn Taylor's first novel [ The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart ] was very good [see my report] . This one is even better .
An epic covering the life of Loyal Ledford from his service at the bloody , sharp end of war in the Pacific with The Marines in 1941 to viewing the Moon landing in 1968 . A lot happens in between which the author describes grippingly with an economic style of prose that pulls the reader along at a hectic pace . His characters are so well drawn that they and their dialogue become real and therefor have the reader's total belief and concern . We witness the poverty , the race and class inequality , the backwoods ignorance of this time not so long ago . Loyal Ledford struggles against the anti black prejudices to establish a community and his marble factory at Marrowbone , West Virginia . He is to say the least unpopular as he tries to give the negro a fair shake . Initially he is branded a communist which , at this time in America , is pretty damning . Gradually however the tide against him turns as he wins over converts and as his stand for equality is carried forward by his next generation's civil rights work .
His community is however visited by evil which must be dealt with: and is . The climax when justice of the rough variety is meted out is fascinating and so very satisfying.
He is no saint : he has his demons , his violent temper , his lifetime fight with booze and his relationship with his flawed and dodgy old army buddy Erm .
While there can be no doubt that this is an exciting , fast moving , epic tale , it also on another level gives pause for thought and makes one question one's own values and achievements .
If Glenn Taylor can continue at this level he will be recognised as one of America's most important contemporary writers .
This is a future classic .
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Glenn Taylor has managed to cram a great deal into this highly original book; war, civil rights, politics and religion. Loyal Ledford has had a hard life but succeeds through sheer hard work and determination. After seeing action in the far east in the Second World War, he sets up a community at Marrowbone with his wife, Mary and their children. Accused of being communists because of their friendship with black people, the community thrives and supports itself from the marble factory set up by Ledford. People in the area gradually thaw towards them and attendance at their church on Sundays, plus their community celebrations, attract a wide mix. This is a far from comfortable book, however, as tensions, especially racial tensions, underlie the experience of the community. The young ones grow up and become involved in civil rights demonstrations, staying loyal to the principles they learnt at Marrowbone, and there is plenty of tragedy and suffering.

Well told, pacy with short sentences, this is a book to keep the reader turning pages. The characters are varied and believable and the details of the marble business are fascinating. It ends well, leaving the reader to ponder on the questions of life and death raised by the book. A good read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Taylor is an author of immense talent and one that has already, with just two books, created a writing and character development style that is uniquely his. Yes there are similarities to James Ellroy and Cormac MaCarthy but they are mere benchmarks.

The book is set in Virginia an spans the 1940s to the end of the 1960s. It encompasses love, war, race, religion, politics, ideology, friendship, life and death and is focused on the life and time of Loyal Ledford. In true Taylor fashion the land and the social back drop are almost as well defined characters in the book as the protagonists.

The book focuses on relationships - father and son, man to land, black with white, wife and husband, man and god. Within each category there are multiple view points and reactions to key scenes vary depending on the person. Some of these comparisons are easy to draw and work themselves out deliberately. notably Ledfords relationship to the Bonecutter ridge compared to his cousins Dimple and Wimpey or the father son relationship of Erm/Fury compared to Loyal/Willy.

Taylor never preaches nor lectures his readers, he uses multiple characters to give a rounded view of the subject and forces the reader to engage, to think through their position an determine where their empathy lies. His cut down narrative style means there is no wasted words and he has an uncanny ability to set tone, scene and atmosphere in spade of just a few words. Hence the Macarthy comparison.

Where the book fails is in the sheer volume of bit part support characters, these are never really brought life and they can feel like incidental colour or plot movers. Loyal's daughter, Mary, Mack's sister and Herchel are the main culprits.
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By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Glenn Taylor tells a big story with a deft lightness of touch. Covering the period from the early 1940s to the late 1960s, The Marrowbone Marble Company (and it's marble in the form of the glass marble game for children rather than the stone variety) tells the story of Loyal Ledford, a hard working man in West Virginia who marries the daughter of the glass factory where he works. Returning from a traumatic WW2, he decides to start his own business manufacturing marbles. If that sounds dull, it's far from it.

Taylor uses the device of moving the story on by devoting, often quite short, chapters to various months (in chronological order but not taking every month) to tell the story of the significant events and the not so significant events. I found myself having to check back each time to see how much time had elapsed between each episode, but that aside it works well.

It's a story of love, race, civil rights and a connection to the land and the pursuit of American ideals in the face of redneck resistance where community and inclusiveness of races (Loyal employs and lives with black and white families in what is akin to the old industrial revolution company towns, although here their location in Marrowbone Cut is more the size of a small village community) gets labelled as communism by the corrupt white political leaders and redneck locals.

The characters are richly, but lightly, drawn and all are nicely rounded with both faults and strengths giving a very real feel to these fictional characters. It's one of those books that I know is going to stay with me for many months and is a delight to read and I will definitely be seeking out Taylor's earlier novel and keeping an eye out for future books on this basis. His first novel has been likened to John Irving by the critics, and that's not wholly out of place but Taylor's style is distinctively his own and this is a highly recommended book.
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