When Amy Greene saw the cover design for Long Man, her new novel, her first thought was “My publisher takes me seriously as a writer.”
And it’s true: this novel, unlike Bloodroot, Greene’s critically acclaimed and New York Times-bestselling first novel, is not illustrated with a delicate watercolor image of a beautiful woman in a romantic dress. It’s illustrated with bold lines, block colors, imposing type—a Knopf designer’s signifier of literary heft and consequence. This assessment was soon borne out when Long Man received starred reviews from pre-publication review sites PW, Booklist, and Kirkus.
Now the novel is getting glowing reviews from other reviewers, too—most notably from The Washington Post and The New York Times, arguably the two most influential book pages in the nation:
From Ron Charles at The Washington Post:
In summary these mountain folk sound as hackneyed as the Country Bear Jamboree, and as the rain falls and the river rises, the potential here for melodrama is high. But Greene is too fine a writer for that. As she works in the stylistic territory of Bonnie Jo Campbell and Ron Rash, her sentences seem to rise up from the soil of this harsh, beautiful land. She gives voice to the aching desires of unsophisticated people who possess a complex, profound understanding of themselves and their doomed way of life.
From Daniel Woodrell at The New York Times:
Long Man carries the weight of tragedy, but in Greene’s hands it does not feel excessively tragic. “The dam would stand in memory, but not of their individual lives,” thinks a character who’s sure they will all be forgotten. Even though the overall ending for Yuneetah has been written by history, this powerful novel proves him wrong.
These accolades, of course, only echo the rave review that Maria Browning gave Long Man in Chapter 16 back on February 20:
The story is genuinely thrilling, full of tension and unexpected turns, but the true power of Long Man lies in Greene’s striking depictions of people and place. The characters—old wisewoman, grotesque outcast, strong-willed farm wife, kindly sheriff—are types familiar from countless stories of the rural South, but in Greene’s hands they become passionate, vulnerable human beings buffeted by powers they can’t hope to oppose, much less defeat. Greene’s gift for conveying a sense of the living environment these people inhabit—an environment that has utterly shaped them and that is soon to be erased forever—gives the story vibrant life. There’s nothing abstract about the grief here. The characters are mourning the flesh and blood of their mother ground: “But this season the stinkbugs and crickets wouldn’t come into the houses for warmth. No leaves would blow down the road on the fall winds, no apples would harden under the frost. Pawpaws would go to ruin at the bottom of the lake with nobody around to taste the sweet mash of their middles.”
For more updates on Tennessee authors, please visit Chapter 16’s News & Notes page, here.