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A Scarecrow's Bible Paperback – 2 Dec 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Suspect Thoughts Press (2 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097634114X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976341147
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,581,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

This is a novel of Southern Gothicism and Urban Minimalism that transcends the work of both Jt Leroy and Dorothy Allison. In a house trailer in the rural South, a married Vietnam veteran, addicted to pharmaceuticals and haunted by memories of the past, is on the brink of collapse. Just when he thinks the dream of another life is over, the unspeakable happens. He falls in love with a frail, ghostly younger man who reminds him of youth, beauty and the possibility of a life beyond the prison he has created for himself. "A Scarecrow's Bible" is about what happens when love occurs at the most unexpected moment. It is the story of how working-class men and women in a small town adapt to changes that somehow seem impossible. It is a novel of hope and transformation that challenges our ideas about diversity and social change, all the way breaking our hearts.

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Format: Paperback
Although 50ish construction worker Gary may have a home where he gathers for safety, in his battered and decrepit trailer on the outskirts of Petulia, Mississippi, his heart is somewhere else. His emotionally fraught wife Gina is having an affair, and his twenty-something daughter Lulu is about to pack up and leave for the bright-lights of New Orleans.

Still haunted by his experiences in the Vietnam War, Gary is devastated by what he sees around him, and after all these years, the destruction of the War is almost impossible to fathom. As Gary struggles to acknowledge that safety exists only by shutting out the world, he turns to drink and drugs, spending his days downing vodka and prescription medications, choking on the memories and the drugs and the drink, and the way his place keeps changing shapes.

But Gary's proclivity for willing self-destruction hides a far deeper problem: Deeply closeted, he has spent much of his youth fighting with his sexuality, haunted by the dreams of when was younger, mixing drinks, and dancing seductively behind a bar, love coming his way in the forms of beautiful ones. Gary knows that he can't go back; "he's too old to mix martinis for young boys and dance elegantly," so now he drinks alone at the kitchen table, "knowing that all the bottles have run out."

One night, while sitting in a corner booth at a local bar, Gary meets Zachary, a skinny, ghostly twenty-six year old who lights a fire within Gary's soul. With his crooked teeth and his obvious addiction to drugs, Gary spies a kindred spirit, a similarly troubled soul who has issues stemming from past abuse in his life.

The two eventually go home together, coiled in a type of shared intimacy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x89db9bac) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89dbd60c) out of 5 stars Southern Gothic 8 May 2006
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gary is a construction worker in a shanty town way down South where nobody ever admits to being gay. His only friend, like Gary himself a homosexual trapped in a loveless marriage, has put an end to his life in a shocking way, and this makes Gary think about how to proceed, for what's the point in living if you can't be who you really are? In Gary's case, this involves coming to terms with painful memories of service in the US forces in Vietnam, visions of which come to haunt him whenever he lets his guard down. To medicate himself, he does the Rush Limbaugh thing and has built a fragile mental economy on counter prescriptions, including heavy doses of Valium.

I wondered if author Martin Hyatt hadn't originally written this book sometime back a decade ago, for to me it seems that Viet Nam vet Gary would be an older man than the vigorous, drugcrazed stripling we encounter in the pages of this book. How old are Viet Nam vets? Surely the youngest of them must be in their fifties? Oh well, the point is the same, for the Viet Nam material actually isn't all that compelling nor is it linked to the present day story in any meaningful way. However, it gives him something to be haunted by and that's what's significant to the plot.

The story is told largely in the second person, with italicized third person sections describing the back story of Zachary, Gary's new love interest. Hyatt uses the second person beautifully, although from time to time he stumbles into the inevitable traps of that seductive way of writing, so that A SCARECROW'S BIBLE tells the hero things he must already know, or if he doesn't, he's a dope, an effect which Leonard Cohen brought off in his song "Suzanne," -- "And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind, and you think you maybe love her, for she's touched your perfect body with her mind."

In this story, it's scarecrow Zachary who's touched Gary's aging body, and not with his mind either, though both speak in lovely, elliptical, almost Biblical cadences, and it's not just the drugs, though both men are really, really drugged up in a way that Hyatt seems to link with being working class, though to my eye they seem more like the French symbolist duo Rimbaud and Verlaine. I found myself hoping that Gary and Gina would repair their tattered marriage, not a good thing in a book so plumb full of tragedy. An astounding debut with a sex scene so explosive my fingers still have burns on them.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89dbd660) out of 5 stars Almost lyrical tale of two troubled men 9 July 2006
By Bob Lind - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gary is a construction worker in his early 50's, living with his emotionally-distant wife Gina and his daughter (although she looks like neither one of them, so Gary suspects otherwise) Lulu in a trailer located in a small town in Louisiana. He makes it through each day solely by abusing prescription medications and alcohol, supposedly needed to drive away the battle "flashbacks" from his tour of duty in VietNam, but likely moreso out of dissatisfaction with his life as a closeted gay man.

One day, on one of his occasional forays to a gay bar, he meets Zachary, a skinny (He's the "scarecrow" of the title) 26 year old who also abuses drugs and alcohol to deal with emotional problems stemming from past abuse in his life, and senses a connection they are both nervous to pursue. Eventually, Lulu moves out on her own, while her mother decides she no longer wants to deal with Gary's problems, and leaves him for another man. Gary reconnects with Zachary, first on a trip to New Orleans to visit Lulu, and eventually invites Zachary to live with him, much to the chagrin of the local townspeople who do not approve. Gary finds himself in the role of caretaker, which he hated in his marriage, but finds more comfort in the arrangement now, as he relates to Zachary in ways that he never did with another person before. Both men try to carry on with their lives, despite outside pressures and their personal demons which threaten their existence.

An emotional, complex story, told in the second person by Gary (with some of Zachary's recollections included in italics for clarity), well-written (and almost lyrical in its prose) by a talented author. Definitely not a light read, but will be most appreciated by those who know someone who has battled substance abuse for extended periods of time. I give it 4 stars out of 5.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89dbd93c) out of 5 stars "Right now he is a prisoner of his deep, dreamy sleep" 1 Oct. 2006
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although 50ish construction worker Gary may have a home where he gathers for safety, in his battered and decrepit trailer on the outskirts of Petulia, Mississippi, his heart is somewhere else. His emotionally fraught wife Gina is having an affair, and his twenty-something daughter Lulu is about to pack up and leave for the bright-lights of New Orleans.

Still haunted by his experiences in the Vietnam War, Gary is devastated by what he sees around him, and after all these years, the destruction of the War is almost impossible to fathom. As Gary struggles to acknowledge that safety exists only by shutting out the world, he turns to drink and drugs, spending his days downing vodka and prescription medications, choking on the memories and the drugs and the drink, and the way his place keeps changing shapes.

But Gary's proclivity for willing self-destruction hides a far deeper problem: Deeply closeted, he has spent much of his youth fighting with his sexuality, haunted by the dreams of when was younger, mixing drinks, and dancing seductively behind a bar, love coming his way in the forms of beautiful ones. Gary knows that he can't go back; "he's too old to mix martinis for young boys and dance elegantly," so now he drinks alone at the kitchen table, "knowing that all the bottles have run out."

One night, while sitting in a corner booth at a local bar, Gary meets Zachary, a skinny, ghostly twenty-six year old who lights a fire within Gary's soul. With his crooked teeth and his obvious addiction to drugs, Gary spies a kindred spirit, a similarly troubled soul who has issues stemming from past abuse in his life.

The two eventually go home together, coiled in a type of shared intimacy. But Gary spends the next day waiting for the sun to end, full of regret that he's disappointed Gina again. Tired of Gary's drinking, Gina moves in with another man, and Lula eventually leaves, finding work as a bar-back in a pub on Bourbon Street. Obviously, Gary's envious and happy for Lula, for putting herself in the world in a way that he never had the guts to.

For Gary it's easier just to swallow the pills and hear the music no matter where it's coming from. Ironically though, it is during this time of great melancholy and confusion that Gary tries to embrace life once again. He asks Zachary to move in with him, even though the townsfolk begin to whisper and gossip. And when Gina finds out, she's disgusted, her small town bigotry and homophobia all too visible. Gary, however, sees it a second chance as the world he knows shifts beneath him, suddenly less predictable.

A Scarecrow's Bible is a deeply intuitive, exquisitely written love story between two conflicted men, taking place in the heart of turmoil and a society that refuses to accept them for who and what they are. The passion between Zachary and Gary is indeed intense, two lonely souls in need of comfort, tired of the constant rattrap of pain.

Gary and Zachary find tenderness in the midst of profound grief with hope surfacing unexpectedly. Growing old, Gary sees that he's missed his chance at a love like Zachary. In his vibrant youth maybe Gary could've been his lover, - but he is no longer youthful and perhaps not even sane. On the other hand, Zachary is the lost puppy, the vulnerable soul, and the disconsolate drifter who is desperate to be mothered and loved.

In tightly measured and gorgeously evocative prose, author Martin Hyatt traces Gary and Zachary's journey through the underbelly of working class Mississippi, skillfully exploring their angst and grief and ultimately their doomed love.

His novel is a testament to the fact that love can turn up in the unlikeliest of places, but it's also where menace can lurk just around the corner. These men are "prisoners of war" lost in a cage of "soft sighs and sharp images," struggling to find hope in the face of impending danger. Mike Leonard October 06.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89dbdc9c) out of 5 stars "To Have Defeated This Loneliness" 23 Feb. 2007
By Foster Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gary is a Vietnam veteran stuck in both a hopeless marriage with his wife Gina, and in a double-wide in Petulia, Mississippi. He has a daughter Lula, too big to be his own daughter, although he loves her as if she is. Haunted by his war memories and his feelings for other men, he is much better at mixing drugs than he is with making friends until he meets the much younger Zachary (who is 26; Gary is 45), a fragile soul who lives with his mother. Both these two men are addicted to prescribed drugs as well as the other kind; and for much of the novel, they spent a good deal of their time either getting high or suffering from hangovers. This is the stuff that soap operas are made of, but not from someone as skillful as Mr. Hyatt is this his first novel. A SCARECROW'S BIBLE is an incredible piece of fiction that overwhelms with its emotional power as it goes straight to the bone. As trite as it may seem, these two unlikely lovers are ultimately saved-- as much as is possible in this climate of bigotry and homophobia where the local Wal-Mart replaces the traditional public square where the locals congregate-- by their love for each other, or as Mr. Hyatt says so much better than I: "It is a pleasure. . . to have defeated this loneliness."

The novel is extremely well written; parts of it have a beautiful dreamlike quality reminiscent of the best writing of Jim Grimsley, another writer whose characters often live far away from the anonymity that liberal big cities offer and struggle against small town and rural poverty and prejudice. There are also shades of John Updike's young Rabbit Angstrom here although there is absolutely nothing derivative about Mr. Hyatt's outrageously good first novel. He is so adept at creating a mood or atmosphere with few words. Gary imagines the trailer after his wife moves out as "an empty palace of poverty." A construction worker, he is building a house in a neighborhood "where everyone has so much money that you can't figure out why they want to live so close to each other." His description of the local Wal-Mart Supercenter is perfect: "You hate that place because it contains everything, and everygody goes there. . . It's the sort of store where you can be sure to run into somebody you know but never thought you would see again. People from high school now work behind the counter, scan your items, and try to make small talk. . . Wal-Mart is some sort of American dream that eludes you, so you stay out of there."

Finally, the ending of this sad but hopeful story-- I'm stealing now from Garrison Keillor's description of the poetry of Emily Dickinson-- will blow your head off. Mr. Hyatt's biographical blurb indicates that he is working on a new novel. It cannot be published too soon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89dbdae0) out of 5 stars I can't believe this book is out of print!!! 5 Feb. 2010
By Jackson A. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Martin Hyatt is a deft writer with a poetic gift of the highest calibration. His sentences sing siren songs and they sound like gorgeous truth. In The Scarecrow's Bible Hyatt gives heart and tender touch to the incomprehensible pairings that we crave and embrace in order to endure nerve-damaged days and slush-bottom nights. Sometimes figures magically appear--wandering through dreamlike parable--and Hyatt owns the power of their nuance. This wave-crashing book conjures characters who know the rocks below--yes--but they endure--with just enough will to keep hanging cliffside.

How heartbreaking that this amazing book is out of print!!!
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