Back pages 

CHECK OUT: "Flood Summer"
  • CHECK OUT: "Flood Summer"

Wherever floods have raged in the history of literature, compelling stuff has often surfaced. “Flood Summer” (SMU Press, $24.95), a first novel by Trenton Lee Stewart, reveals an engaging epic told with real talent.

The novel is set in and around Hot Springs and some of the scenes come readily to mind for those who know Central Avenue, West Mountain and the Arlington Hotel. On the surface, the narrative seems to be heading toward a complicated love story. Underneath, however, dark secrets are carried along in this flood until the water recedes and they snag like water moccasins in the treetops.

The protagonist, Abe Pittenger, is a country boy who lives just outside Hot Springs in Locker Creek. The novel opens with a rite-of-passage trip to the beach for Abe and his friends that sets the tone of the novel. The boys leave during a deluge and Abe begins to realize that his future is as clear as a fogged windshield. After a few days at the beach, they return home only to find that the rain still hasn’t quit. The water starts rising along Bath House Row and Abe soon will be jerked into a whirlpool of life-changing events.

Early on, it’s clear that Abe has pretty much turned his personal sense of failure and despair into a vocation. He remains at odds with his distant and stern father and believes that he has failed several of his close friends. On top of that, he has blown his scholarship to Hendrix College and now works on a roofing crew.

To complicate matters, Abe falls for Marie Hamilton, a young woman whose tortured past has stunted her emotionally. After spending her teen years in a series of foster homes, she’s returned to Hot Springs to work in her dad’s bookstore. Marie soon steals Abe’s heart but doesn’t quite know what to do with it. She’s not the only one.

In the hands of Abe, love becomes just another elusive and slippery task. In fact, love careens around in this novel with a range of characters until the message is unavoidable. How does one get love? How does one give it? And what does one do in the meantime?

Stewart’s writing is a rich silt of language that readily captures the rhythms of small-town life. The dialogue helps move this novel along and reflects a genuine feel for rural people. Yet, there’s really nothing here that might box him in as a “regional” writer.

A native of Hot Springs, Stewart is a graduate of the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where a lot of good writers get their start. He also is the author of “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” a children’s book that has been on recent national best-seller lists. He lives in Little Rock with his wife, Sarah Beth Estes, and two children.

-Rod Lorenzen




Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Guest

  • Climate action good for Arkansas

    Thirty-five Senate Republicans and three Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, support Senate Resolution 26 to block the federal Environmental Protection Agency from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters like coal power plants.
    • Feb 11, 2010
  • Needed: Strong Estate Tax

    On New Year’s Day the estate tax, an essential part of the U.S. tax system for nearly 100 years, disappeared because Congress failed to act in December. Congressional leaders now are pledging to act in early 2010 to reinstate the federal estate tax retroactive to Jan. 1. In the meantime, rhetoric over the estate tax will heat up.
    • Feb 4, 2010
  • No country for old country

    Jeff Bridges plays it broke-down in ‘Crazy Heart.’
    • Feb 4, 2010
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Issue 3: blank check

    Who could object to a constitutional amendment "concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development," which is the condensed title for Issue 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Latest in Books

Visit Arkansas

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • George Takei to UCA

    Also, 'The Halloween Tree' at Ron Robinson, Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival, Fourche Creek Discovery Day, Halloween on the River, Chanticleer at Christ Episcopal Church and Andrew W.K. at Revolution.
  • After Auburn

    I'm not one for hyperbole, but the mere mention of "56-3" changes things.
  • Sip it, grip it, rip it

    Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.
  • Guided by Voices!

    Also, Andy Frasco and the U.N. play Stickyz

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation