Robert McCammon burst upon the horror scene in the early 1980’s as a writer who had obvious talent but he lacked some refining in his storytelling. He was comparable to a young Stephen King and he wrote about things with a supernatural bent to them. I recently came across a hardcover edition of Gone South that I own and decided to read it again. And it’s leaps and bounds better than his early work, albeit not a true horror novel either. But, it’s storytelling magic at it’s finest.
One of McCammon’s main strengths as a writer is his supurb characterization, he makes you feel about the participants in his books. Feel some kind of way, whether it be compassion or disgust.
He also can paint a picture that you can see, a must for any successful writer.
It’s a simple premise, executed perfectly I might add, about Dan Lambert, a veitnam veteran, who is sick with leukemia and snaps one day when his truck is about to be repossessed when he is struggling to make his payments because he can’t find consistent work. The novel was written in 1992 when the economy was hurting and, ironically enough, the same can be said today.
Lambert kills a man in the heat of the moment at the bank and leaves town, unsure of where he is headed. The supporting characters are some of the most interesting that I can ever remember (and I’ve probably read close to 1,000 novels since I was a kid, no joke).
He meets Arden Halliday, a young woman with a port wine (purple birthmark) covering the right side of her face, at a diner and they become travel partners and their lives are forever changed as they end up search for the Bright Girl, a legend in the Bayou.
This was the second book in a row where McCammon expanded beyond his horror roots and wrote about more than just the suprnatural. In 1991, he penned the remarkable Boys Life, a story about a young boy whose dad witnesses a man drive into a lake and never come out. And how is father is haunted by it. Among the other storylines are the Civil rights in Alabama during the 1960’s and some moonshiners, all from the viewpoint of a 12 year old.
If you enjoy reading and haven’t read McCammon…..you need to. He’s quite simply an amazing author
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