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A Gathering of Old Men   book icon  
by Ernest Gaines (1992)

read: 3 February 2009
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I found this book in a waiting room somewhere and it was on my shelves unread until I finally needed a small paperback to take on my trip. This book was great. It’s set in a post-sharecropper era in the South in a plantation town that is pretty much only occupied by elderly people who used to work on the plantation. There is some sort of altercation and one of the plantation owners is killed and there is a big to do about who will take the blame and for what reason. The old black men in town all assemble with their rifles, ready to say “I did it” in the face of what they are assuming is going to be violent opposition from the usual suspects. And that’s sort of what happens except the usual suspects are far from usual and there is a lot of change in the air and what happens isn’t quite what you expect.

Gaines' characters are interesting and full of complications and depth and the story is told in successive chapters by many different people, giving you somewhat differing perspectives, but not in the usual “who is telling the truth?” sort of way. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy the multiple perspectives but it turned out to make this story even more compelling than it would be otherwise, affording many differing views of the same day full of events.

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