Boy with Loaded Gun by Lewis Nordan
A Memoir

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Synopsis

Lewis Nordan is famous for his special vision of the Mississippi Delta. His characters, for whom the closest-though hopelessly inadequate-description might be "eccentrics," share the stage with swamp elves and midgets living in the backyard. His fiction is unlike anybody else's and is as dark, hilarious, and affecting as any ever written.

It's also writing that lays bare the agony of adolescence and plows, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer once put it, "the fields of puzzling wonder that precede the responsibilities and disappointments of adulthood."

What bred and fed Nordan's imagination, his originality, his indefatigable sense of humor? The answers aren't obvious. But now that Lewis Nordan produces, directs, and stars in his own story, we just might find out.

Nordan's mother was widowed when he was a baby, and she went back to her home town to remarry and raise her only son "Buddy." Itta Bena, Mississippi, was a prototypical fifties Delta town, so drowsy that even before puberty, Nordan had made his escape plans. What happened next was pretty typical-a stint in the Navy, college in Mississippi, very early marriage, young fatherhood, alcoholism, infidelities, broken hearts. But in Nordan's hands, the typical turns into the transcendent and, at the heart of things, there is always the irrepressible laughter.

Horrible things and horribly funny things happen in Boy with Loaded Gun, but it's that heart that leads us through Lewis Nordan's dark tunnel and back into the light.

 

About Lewis Nordan

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Lewis Nordan (23 August 1939- ) Born in Forest, Mississippi, United States, he grew up in Itta Bena, Mississippi. In 1983, at age forty-five, Nordan published his first collection of stories, Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair. The collection established him as a writer in the grotesque Southern tradition of William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, and Flannery O'Connor. It also established a place for Nordan's fiction, the fictional Arrow Catcher, Mississippi, a small town in the Mississippi Delta based loosely on Nordan's hometown of Itta Bena.After the short-story collection The All-Girl Football Team (1986) followed Music of the Swamp (1991), a novel/short-story cycle featuring Nordan's spiritual alter ego, the young Sugar Mecklin, as the protagonist. The book features aspects of magic realism that would become one of Nordan's trademarks, along with a peculiar mix of the tragic and the hilarious.Wolf Whistle (1993), Nordan's second novel, was both a critical and public success. It won the Southern Book Award and gained him a wider audience. The book deals with one of the most notorious racial subjects in recent Southern history: the murder of Emmett Till.The novel The Sharpshooter Blues (1995) is a lyrical meditation on America's gun culture, as well as another portrait of the grotesque lives in Itta Bena. With the coming-of-age novel Lightning Song (1997), Nordan moved from Itta Bena to the hill country of Mississippi. The novel still features Nordan's magic Mississippi realism, complete with singing llamas and poetic lightning strikes.In 2000, Nordan published a "fictional memoir," Boy With Loaded Gun.Before retiring in 2005, Lewis Nordan lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he taught Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
 
Published January 1, 2000 by Algonquin Books. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Boy with Loaded Gun

Kirkus Reviews

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A bittersweet memoir of growing up absurd in rural Mississippi, then suffering the slings and arrows of marriage and fatherhood, from the popular author of such vivid fiction as Music of the Swamp (1991) and Lightning Song (1997).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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Nordan, a novelist (Wolf Whistle; Lightning Song) who savors the darkly comic possibilities of human folly, chronicles his own bad behavior in this rueful, notably candid memoir of an odd child wh

Jan 03 2000 | Read Full Review of Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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Not to worry: Nordan avoids self-flagellation and solipsism, fashioning instead a memoir that achieves hard-won introspection and strikes a tone of weary sadness and wonderment that Buddy turned out okay after all.

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Entertainment Weekly

B Originally posted Mar 10, 2000 Published in issue #530 Mar 10, 2000 Order article reprints

Mar 10 2000 | Read Full Review of Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Wet they were not so good a cover as the roll kind would have been, but with enough of them plastered around me, I began to develop a sort of skirt that was more or less opaque.” Tragedy meets the comedy in the unexpected form of the elevator operator whom Nordan summons for help: “He was tiny,...

Feb 20 2000 | Read Full Review of Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir

Austin Chronicle

One of the most basic reasons to read a memoir is to draw strength from the story of another person's life -- how the writer has gotten through his trials, borne his woes, made use of his gifts (or borne his gifts and made use of his woes, perhaps).

Mar 03 2000 | Read Full Review of Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir

ForeWord Reviews

He takes full responsibility for the lack of control and misdirected anger that characterize his choices in life.

Dec 16 1999 | Read Full Review of Boy with Loaded Gun: A Memoir

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