Mr B's review
Pearl and her mother live in a backwoods Florida trailer park that is crawling with suspicious characters. They have no material possessions and sleep in their car, yet this simple existence seems enough. But the arrival of the mysterious Eli – and the looming violence he brings with him – turns Pearl’s life upside down. Told in an unforgettable poetic voice which flows like a Johnny Cash ballad, Gun Love is an elegant slice of modern southern gothic. – Ed at Mr. B’s
**Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2018**
‘Haunting … poetic … Full of sorrow and aching sweetness’ Washington Post
Gun Love is a hypnotic story of family, community and violence. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenager, it exposes America’s love affair with firearms and its painful consequences.
‘My mother called anyone or anything that seemed alone, or ended up in the wrong place, a stray. There were stray people, stray dogs, stray bullets, and stray butterflies.’
Fourteen-year-old Pearl France lives in the front seat of a broken down car and her mother Margot lives in the back. Together they survive on a diet of powdered milk and bug spray, love songs and stolen cigarettes.
Life on the edge of a Florida trailer park is strange enough, but when Pastor Rex’s ‘Guns for God’ programme brings Eli Redmond to town Pearl’s world is upended. Eli pays regular visits to Margot in the back seat, forcing Pearl to find a world beyond the car. Margot is given a gift by Eli, a gun of her own, just like he’s given her flowers. It sits under the driver’s seat, a dark presence…
‘One of those rare books that the reader might wish to be a few dozen pages longer, to spend more time in this fully realised world ‘ Observer
“Jennifer Clement’s new novel is appallingly timely … Ms Clement creates a weird poetry of murderous force. Chekhov’s narrative principle-that a gun hung on the wall in the first act must eventually go off-has become a metaphorical rule of storytelling. To reflect American reality, Ms Clement puts a gun on every wall in every room” * The Economist * “A neon fairytale… written in the punchy, exaggerated style of a graphic novel, it’s surprisingly enjoyable” — Lois Beckett * Guardian * “Clement’s book is charged with gut-punch sentences and indelible images, but [the] second act is particularly searing … Propelled to its inevitable denouement less by plot than by the intensity of its author’s prose and singular vision, this is an uncompromising snapshot of America’s ills” — Stephanie Cross * Daily Mail * “Clement’s spare, often oblique style makes this book feel like a great lost murder ballad by the likes of Johnny Cash or Nick Cave … excellent at describing the intensity of the love between a mother and child within a claustrophobic environment, and the disruption that a hostile male presence causes to this bond … One of those rare books that the reader might wish to be a few dozen pages longer, to spend more time in this fully realised world” — Alexander Larman * The Observer * “Haunting … poetic … Full of sorrow and aching sweetness, “Gun Love” provides a glimpse of people who dwell every day knee deep in the toxic waste of our gun culture. They may be America’s forgotten children, but after reading this novel, you are not likely to forget them” — Ron Charles * Washington Post *
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