U.S. teacher woos critics with debut novel

Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:58pm EDT
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By Edward McAllister

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Last week, Bruce Machart was teaching a college English class in Texas, but the critical success of his debut novel has put a temporary stop to that.

Eight years after he sketched its opening chapter, his first book, "The Wake of Forgiveness", arrived on U.S. shelves this week to a chorus of complimentary reviews across the country.

"Publishers Weekly" named it one of their ten most promising debuts to watch and it has been chosen as a Barnes and Noble "Discover" pick.

The recognition has pulled Machart, 40, from his home town in Houston out into the world to face the attentions of the national press; and he seems to be enjoying it.

"Ten days ago I was teaching my five classes and now I'm flying around the country talking to people who have read my book and that is kind of surreal," Machart told Reuters in New York. "I'm about as tired as I've ever been in my life."

Set in Lavaca County, Texas, "The Wake of Forgiveness" is a violent, poetic account of four brothers from a Czech immigrant family growing up at the turn of the 20th Century.

There is love and horses and beautiful Mexican girls, but critics have been won by his prose, his descriptions of the Texan landscapes and the events that happen in them. Comparisons have been made with the greats of Southern American literature; with Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner.

Machart himself is from a family of Czech immigrants. He was raised in the city, but his cousins lived out in Lavaca County, in the country of his novel, when he was growing up.   Continued...