I’m enjoying one of those rare finds. A book that catches you in the first twenty pages and drags you deep into the enjoyment of a wonderful author, who you didn’t know before. In this climate of finding worthwhile, and, if possible, enjoyable, things to do at home, curtesy of Covid-19, there is a limit to re-runs of Golden Girls and King of Queens, despite how much you enjoy them.
Delia Owens has done it for me in “Where the Crawdads Sing.”
It’s been a top seller for a long time. It has just escaped me, I guess, until now. Her descriptions of the life and times of Southern culture in the 50’s and 60’s are priceless. Think Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad,” and any of Flannery O’Connor’s southern tales. Owens’ scenic descriptions of the tangle of swamps of coastal North Carolina are enhanced by her academic background of zoology, animal behavior, and a stack of non-fiction wildlife books. Who else could describe the beauty of a swamps a hundred ways and scare you as well with an eerie sunset, darkness, fog, and morning light that make you tingle with a dozen gut reactions—never thinking of purple prose either?
Carol and I have made our cocktail hour a reading event. I get to practice a little dramatic reading of Owens’ colorful passages, we pause and discuss, speculate, and generally burry ourselves in familiar territory of North Carolina. (We were stationed in Morehead City when I was CO of the USCGC Chilula. We have immersed ourselves into the heart-breaking coming of age tale, the beauty of the language, and then—we speculate on the terrific murder mystery.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” has it all.