Local Author comes home

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004

Call it a coming home, of sorts.

Today, at the Demopolis Public Library, Forkland native Marlin Barton will read from his new novel, A Broken Thing. This novel follows the local author’s successful book of short stories, The Dry Well.

The reading, set for 2 p.m. Thursday, will give residents a glimpse into what other reviews and authors have already said about Barton’s ability to capture an audience.

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“Marlin Barton writes of the South with the same humanity and degree of accuracy we find in the work of Ernest Gaines, Bobbie Anne Mason and Larry Brown,” said James Lee Burke, author of Black Cherry Blues. “The dialogue is always perfect, the setting unforgettable… The Dry Well introduces us to a new and resonant and poetic voice in Southern writing.”

As described by one critic, Barton’s latest novel “reminds us how many people, living and dead, ghost our daily experience, complicating and enriching our choices.”

Says Dabney Stewart, “Barton includes the dimension of mercy, too — the mutual forgiveness of failures by family members who, finally, find ways to realize they can’t live without each other.”

The depiction of this Alabama family, as one author puts it, “makes you nod your head, yes, yes.”

“You realize you know this family,” Nanci Kincaid, author of Verbena. “You might even love them. Their story will definitely take hold of you and make you care.”

Reading excerpts from his book is only part of the event planned today at the Demopolis library.

Currently, Barton is assistant director of the “Writing Our Stories” project for juvenile offenders at Mt. Meigs in Montgomery. During his talk, Barton plans to share some of the stories about his work with young offenders and will read poetry written by some of the young people in the program.

Because of his literary success, Barton has been awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship for Literature from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and received the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook award for the best first volume of short stories.

Below are other published comments about Barton’s writing style and his latest book:

“A Broken Thing provides a lesson in love and truth, exploring the discord that arises when both are compromised.” –Allison Barnes, Southern Living

“A Broken Thing is an amazing crazy-quilt of a novel, told in multiple voices throughout a tumultuous two-year period of constant, relentless, Alabama-family dysfunction. These characters, Conrad, Laura, and Michael, deal with false biological fatherhood, misdiagnosed motherhood, questionable means-to-ends choices. In the end it is Seth, the youngest narrator, who proves to be the family’s linchpin. Marlin Barton has written a novel about the heart, and both its hidden and well-known chambers.” –George Singleton, author of The Half-Mammals of Dixie