Loving the Dead and Gone
by Judith Turner-Yamamoto
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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 28 Aug 2022
“This beautifully written novel, with its complicated, stubborn characters, will haunt you long after the last page.” —Margot Livesey, Author of The Boy in The Field
The death of Donald Ray in a freak car accident becomes the catalyst for the release of passions, needs, and hurts. Clayton’s discovery of dead Donald Ray upends his longtime emotional numbness. Darlene, the seventeen-year-old widow, struggles to reconnect with her late husband while proving herself still alive. Soon Clayton and Darlene's bond of loss and death works its magic, drawing them into an affair that brings the loneliness in Clayton’s marriage to a crisis. When Aurilla Cutter, Clayton’s mother-in-law, learns about the affair, her own memories of longing and infidelity are set loose. Like Darlene's passions—unappeased and clung to—Aurilla’s possess an intensity that denies life to the present. As Aurilla’s own forbidden and tragic story of love, death, and repeated loss alternates with Darlene's and Clayton’s, the divide of generations narrows and collapses, building to an unlikely collision.
A Note From the Publisher
“Loving the Dead and Gone is an absorbing account of two generations of women, living in North Carolina, who struggle to put love at the centre of their lives. How well Turner-Yamamoto understands the complexities of passion, the necessity of work, and the limits of small towns. This beautifully written novel, with its complicated, stubborn characters, will haunt you long after the last page.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in The Field, the New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books 2019, and the New York Times Best Seller The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“Loving the Dead and Gone is a rich and skillfully rendered portrait of a place that explores the generational effects of love and loss and the fragile connections within a family. Judith Turner-Yamamoto gives us a complex and memorable cast of characters and a vivid setting filled with stunning detail.”
—Jill McCorkle, author of Hieroglyphics and the New York Times Best Seller, Life After Life
“There has been an accident in tiny Gold Ridge, a place where most lives revolve around farming the earth or working the hosiery mill, and everyone is changed by it. In a voice that rings with the colloquial timbre of William Faulkner melded with the rural realism of Carol Chute’s The Beans of Egypt, Maine, Judith Turner-Yamamoto brilliantly uses a tragedy to draw us into a place so real you can smell it, where her tapestry of narrator voices captivates us with empathy and love. I was fortunate to be on the panel of the Ohio Artistic Awards in Literature that chose to award Loving the Dead and Gone, recognizing its lyric strength and deep and empathic understanding of rural America.”
—Elizabeth Cohen, author of The Hypothetical Girl
“Turner-Yamamoto’s multigenerational saga reminds me of Bobbie Gentry’s great Patchwork album, with a touch of William Goyen, Lee Smith, and Our Town. This bittersweet paean to a NC Piedmont hosiery mill town is a mid- 20th century time capsule of car wrecks, nerve medicine, open caskets, ghosts, and gossip. Bad luck and trouble ricochet between families until desire and memories are swept away. And yet, the female lens and circular narrative make Loving the Dead and Gone a sensory delight.”
—Richard Peabody, editor, Gargoyle Magazine
“Judith Turner-Yamamoto’s Loving the Dead and Gone is a love story that begins with a tragedy, proceeds through loss and suffering, and winds up in a place of deeply earned redemption. Though there are several characters who guide us through this unstoppable narrative, none is more breathtakingly rendered that Aurilla Cutter. Women like Aurilla, we say in the South, will live forever because they’re too mean to die. Ah, but Aurilla has a past that will touch your heart and explain her present. She’s an unforgettable character among a cast of unforgettables, from her put-upon daughter, Berta May, to the heartbroken and fiery seventeen-year-old widow, Darlene, to Berta May’s haunted husband, Clayton. Actually, everything about Loving the Dead and Gone, to Judith Turner-Yamamoto’s great credit, is unforgettable.”
—Ed Falco, author of the NY Times Best Seller, The Family Corleone
“Judith Turner-Yamamoto has written a brilliantly lyrical novel born of her native Southern heritage. Within these pages are the compelling and unforgettable characters of a North Carolina family steeped in love and generational conflict tempered by a tough country spirit.”
—Kay Sloan, author of The Patron Saint of Red Chevys, a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection.
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Average rating from 18 members
This book blew my mind in such a way that I read it in one sitting, physically unable to do anything other than devour all it had to offer.
I was caught of guard by the multiple narrators at first but as the story progressed their lives seamlessly intertwined. Judith Turner-Yamamoto has a knack for setting the scene in such a poetic and realistic way. Judith also has a talent for shocking me.
Aurilla's POV was shocking throughout. I absolutely hated her from the moment Berta Mae first described her mother. And yet, by the end of the book I was angry FOR Aurilla. It has been years since a book has brought out so many emotions in me.
Grief is woven into every page and every word. It is deeply ingrained into each of the main characters in subtle as well as obvious ways. There were frustrations I felt as the reader, feeling like a motionless bystander unable to shake some of the characters into growing a backbone. Grief can do strange things to your psyche and this portrays that quite realistically.
Thoroughly enjoyed this, I can't wait to read more of Judith Turner-Yamamoto. I highly recommend this to anyone that is looking for that one book to remind them of how powerful they can be.
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