Photo of Bluffton, S.C., by greenkayak73 used under a Creative Commons license.
Padgett Powell, Edisto (Henry Holt, 1985).
Simons (“You say it ‘Simmons.’ I’m a rare one-m Simons.”) Everson Manigault, twelve years old, lives on an undeveloped stretch of the South Carolina coast with his mother – he calls her the Doctor and the locals call her the Duchess — who is separated from his father, “the Progenitor,” a lawyer who lives in more conventional surroundings in Hilton Head. Simons narrates with an unconventionally rich vocabulary, and while some of his experiences make him seem older than twelve, Powell captures that pre-teen moment when you perceive an adult world but only partly understand it. A coming-of-age story in which the narrator’s voice and view is so compelling that you don’t even notice that not all that much happens.
Garrison Keillor relates some of Powell’s background on The Writer’s Almanac. Camille Renshaw reviews it in PiF Magazine. Tia blogs about it. Ben quotes a passage. Brian J. Barr interviewed Powell in The Believer in 2006.