Original catalog copy, Knopf edition
first novel,A World Made of Fire, was praised by James Dickey ("A truly
outstanding novel"), Barry Hannah ("Full of delicate electricity and
raw power") and Stephen King ("A damned fine story.") See back of
His new novel -- full of charm and generosity of spirit -- is about a
boy's heroic dream fulfilled. It's 1942. The place is Alabama. Victor,
aged sixteen, has been sent by his family to care for his grandmother
on an island in Mobile Bay. The war is everywhere: at school, they hand
out cards with silhouettes of enemy airplanes; at home, Victor clips
newspaper pictures of Churchill and Goebbels. He yearns to break away
and join the rest of the world in the great patriotic adventure.
Until one night, hearing an earth-rending roar out on the bay, he sets
out to investigate and finds himself suddenly, miraculously, in the
midst of war. His boat has crashed into a surfacing German U-boat.
What happens, as he is alternatively a hostage and in hot pursuit, is
told in a novel that combines real excitement and suspense (rich and
mysterious eccentrics, enemy agents, a Nazi plan to infiltrate the
southern coast of the United States) with a brilliantly perceptive
vision of the adolescent -- as dreamer, as romantic, as would-be adult
and would-be hero -- crossing, under wildly dramatic circumstances, the
delicate border into adulthood.
"If you've forgotten the thrills and chills of child's play, the
incendiary imagination of adolescence, Mark Childress's second novel --
a speeding bullet of a book -- will ignite your memory. In this
adventure story the hero, Victor, is sublimely lost, a celebrated
ragamuffin like Huck Finn or one of Peter Pan's lost tribe."
-- Marianne Gingher, New York Times Book Review
"A crackling good adventure is tough to pull off, but Mark Childress
has done just this and he's done it brilliantly. From his lyrical
opening passages, which evoke the softness of adolescent innocence,
right up through his explosive finale, he never lets us come up for
air. And we never want to. Think of the Hardy Boys if you will, but
also think of Harper Lee, and early Capote. This is a yarn spun with
poetry. This is storytelling at its best."
-- Peter Buckley, Vogue
"The whole 'great watery plain of Mobile Bay' is a world the author and
his gangly hero know with a strong and lovely intimacy."
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Childress makes us believe this tale of double-crosses, murders,
spying and general mayhem. He does this through a magical evocation of
place, a lyric touch and a keen ear for speech, both interior and
exterior....A compelling variation on the happy myth of war as a
passage to manhood."
-- San Francisco Chronicle
"With a marvelous ear for language and devilishly rich imagination,
Mark Childress has crafted an engaging and readable novel."
-- Jay Parini, The Boston Globe
"Mr. Childress knows the business of words. His descriptions evoke a sense of time and place that ring true...A rare talent."
-- Atlanta Journal & Constitution
"A boy's fantasy of adventure, heroism, and romance...the cinematic plot is perfect for a thriller movie."
-- Publisher's Weekly
"Childress's novel zings with charm and thrills."
"Childress deftly evokes the marshy landscape, the thrill of radio
listening, the magic of a summer cotillion, etching it against a
backdrop of purpose and urgency."
-- Joseph Olshan, Chicago Tribune
"Enthralling and delightful...what might at first have seemed a gently
paced coming-of-age story turns into a rambunctious tale full of the
kind of characters who crowd a would-be teenage hero's dreams. V for
Victor is a rich, compelling story: Childress shows boyhood in all its
endearing awkwardness, fervency, and fire."
-- Heather Vogel Frederick, Christian Science Monitor
"Childress expertly weaves the intrigue of a first-rate coming-of-age
story with subtle moments that show a boy testing the boundaries of
youth. (He) creates a landscape teeming with possibilities...and he
delivers on his promise. Victor takes us to the narrow edge of youth,
where every day a U-boat may be waiting."
-- Orlando Sentinel
"V for Victor is a thriller, but it is also a novel, a fine,
fast-moving yarn that ought to have the Alabama filmmaking promotion
agency jumping for joy."
-- Macon Telegraph
"Childress has as many twist and turns and surprises in his novel as the Magnolia River."
-- Birmingham News