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Between now and April 13, we will be featuring all of the 2015 Oregon Book Awards finalists.
2015 Oregon Book Awards Finalist
About the book:
After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face-to-face with the boy’s profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times. But as Pete’s own family spins out of control, Pearl’s activities spark the full-blown interest of the FBI, putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.
In this shattering and iconic American novel, Smith Henderson explores the complexities of freedom, community, grace, suspicion, and anarchy, brilliantly depicting our nation’s disquieting and violent contradictions. Fourth of July Creek is an unforgettable, unflinching debut that marks the arrival of a major literary talent.
About the author:
Smith Henderson is the recipient of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writer Award in fiction, and was the Phillip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University the same year. His short story, “Number Stations” won a Pushcart Prize and a finalist honors for the University of Texas Keene Prize, where he was a Michener Center for Writing Fellow. He currently works at the Wieden + Kennedy advertising agency, where he contributed to the Emmy-nominated “Halftime In America” Super Bowl Commercial. An accomplished screenwriter, he co-wrote “Dance With The One”, a 2010 South By Southwest Narrative Prize Finalist. His fiction has been anthologized and published in American Short Fiction, One Story, New Orleans Review, Makeout Creek, and Witness. Born and raised in Montana, he now lives in Portland, Oregon.
Excerpt from Fourth of July Creek:
The kid walked bowlegged and with his chest forward like he was breasting his way across a river, observing with badly concealed interest the panoply of animals and plants cut from construction paper and taped to the walls. He looked through an ajar door at a classroom taking a quiz and at the lockers and up into the staircase with the mute fascination of an ambassador. In the bathroom, the boy entered the doorless stall and regarded the sculpted porcelain a moment before locating the upright seat and pulling it down. He shat with Pete watching, shameless as a dog. When he washed his hands, he lathered promptly, and then rinsed with wary pleasure, turning his hands in the hot water and looking at Pete in the mirror as if he had to keep an eye on him, and not the other way around.
Smith Henderson’s website:
“Fourth of July Creek is…an impressive book—deeply so…the story this prose conveys, and the manner in which Henderson unfurls it, bears its own unalloyed power.”
“…crackles and lurches with the intensity of a Tom Waits song…”
“…astonishing…Fourth of July Creek is Henderson’s first novel, a somewhat startling fact because the book reads like the work of someone who has been around and seen too many things he wished he hadn’t. You’re going to hear more about it come awards time.”
“…expertly written and without a false note…Of a piece with Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road…”
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