Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cemetery Road

Gar Anthony Haywood
Cemetery Road

Severn House, 2010

The narrator of this story Errol Handy White arrives in Los Angeles for the funeral of his childhood friend R.J. Burrow. Burrow has been found dead in a stolen car full of drugs, with two bullets in his head and two in the back. Burrow, White, and O`Neal Holden, now mayor of nearby Bellwood, in their youth committed a crime, which led to a series of tragic consequences, and the guilt is still gnawing at each of them after 26 years. After the crime the three friends from the hood swear that will never communicate with each other. Now Burrow dies of a mysterious death, so that even the family of the deceased, his wife and daughter, does not believe in the police version that the death of Burrow is the result of drug deal gone wrong. Holden, who became mayor, seems to have engaged in illicit affairs. Handy White believes that that what he can do for the childhood friend now is find out who killed Burrow and how his death connects with a secret from the past.

The classic beginning in no way leads to predictable results. Handy White, now a mechanic in one of the towns of Minnesota, over these 26 years that have passed since the time when the three friends made a major mistake of their lives, became a wise man, although time has not healed his wounds. «Cemetery Road» is a book written by a wise man. Almost every chapter begins with a lyrical introduction. I want to cite and cite:

«It's not a problem young people have to worry about, but right around the time he hits his middle forties, a man starts giving serious thought to dying well. In his sleep in his own bed, or in the course of a street fight meant to settle something meaningful. His end doesn't have to be poignant, just devoid of indignity.»

«No matter how it comes upon you, no man is ever adequately prepared for fatherhood. It is too inexact a science. »

«... There were many paths a man could take during his time on earth, but sooner or later, they all brought him down the same one: cemetery road.»

The lyrical component, however, does not mean that «Cemetery Road» is devoid of cruel and brutal truth. Handy White gradually recalls the bloody story from the past, which drugdealers and psychopaths were involved in, parallel closing to solving the death of Burrow. White knows that the truth will hit him in the stomach, and the past woudn’t be fixed, but White goes to the end. There are mistakes that can be corrected; there are mistakes that can not be corrected, and there are mistakes, the correction of which leads to new mistakes. Haywood's book is just about the last type of mistakes.

Haywood writes like so few people today do, he also wrote a book with impeccable storyline. All there is interconnected, and yet in a novel there are three plot lines and two finals, one more powerful than the other.

«Cemetery Road» is almost a perfect book about no matter how much a man strive for perfection, he still can not get rid of his weaknesses and can’t wash away all his sins.

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