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Bookmarks Issue: 
50-Jan-Feb-2011
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0

A-The Wake of ForgivenessBruce Machart is a Texas native and an instructor at Lone Star College in Houston. The Wake of Forgiveness is his first novel.

The Story: Machart sets his multigenerational family saga in the south Texas community of Lavaca County. Vaclav Skala, a Czech immigrant and farmer, awakes one morning in 1895 to witnesses the birth of his fourth son Karel and the death of his wife Klara. Full of bitterness, Vaclav raises his boys in a rigid, abusive household, forcing them to wear harnesses while they plow the fields so that their necks are permanently damaged. When wealthy Mexican rancher Guillermo VillaseƱor settles in the area with his three lovely daughters, he offers the Skalas an irresistible proposition that will put their loyalty and family honor to the test.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 309 pages. $26. ISBN: 9780151014439

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Such evocative prose helps make Machart's novel a standout this year, in any genre. ... I can barely wait for what comes next." Karen R. Long

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"It is a rare novel that makes a reader feel he has fallen through a crack in the earth and is swimming in the subconscious aquifer. ... This is pure literature; an emphasis on language over plot; risky, complex and often unlikable characters and that echo, that ripple that flows forward into the future and backward into myth." Susan Salter Reynolds

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"Both eloquent and fast-paced, the novel only bogs down in extremely detailed action scenes. ... Ultimately Machart stands on his own two feet, telling a powerful story of familial love, anguish and hatred." William J. Cobb

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"His accounts of the horse races are as thrilling as his depictions of the harsh Texas landscape are loving and precise. ... The echoes of McCarthy are loud in his lush style, but there are also undertones of Faulkner, Larry McMurtry, Norman Maclean and Charles Frazier." Philip Caputo

San Antonio Exp-News 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] dazzling, gratifying tale of retribution, redemption and morality. ... [An] invigorating new voice in Texas literature." Steve Bennett

Critical Summary

It is rare for a first-time novelist, or any novelist, to receive such overwhelming critical acclaim, as well as favorable comparisons to Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, and several other literary powerhouses. But with his evocative, action-packed story of kinship, forgiveness, and redemption, Bruce Machart has earned every one of his accolades. The Wake of Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart; these men are mean, this book is violent, and the narrative hopscotches around in time. Those with a hardy nature will find the novel riveting reading.