Remember Ben Clayton by Stephen Harrigan

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Synopsis

From the author of the acclaimed best seller The Gates of the Alamo, a new novel that confirms and enlarges Stephen Harrigan’s reputation as a major voice in American fiction.

Francis “Gil” Gilheaney is a sculptor of boundless ambition. But bad fortune and his own prideful spirit have driven him from New York into artistic exile in Texas just after World War I. His adult daughter, Maureen, serves as his assistant, although she has artistic ambitions of her own and is beginning to understand how her own career—perhaps even her life—has become hostage to her driven father’s “wild pursuit of glory.” When Lamar Clayton, an aging, heartbroken rancher, offers Gil a commission to create a memorial statue of his son Ben, who was killed in the war, Gil seizes the opportunity to create what he believes will be his greatest achievement.

As work proceeds on the statue, Gil and Maureen come to realize that their new client is a far more complicated man than he appeared to be on first acquaintance, and that Lamar is guarding a secret that haunts his relationship with his son even in death. But Gil is haunted as well: by the fear that his work will be forgotten and by an unconscionable lie whose discovery could cost him his daughter’s love. The creation of the statue leads to a chain of dramatic encounters, through which Maureen will test the boundaries of her independence and Gil and Lamar, each in his own painful way, will confront their worth as fathers.

Remember Ben Clayton vividly depicts a rich swath of American history, from the days when the Comanches ruled the Southern plains to the final brutal months of World War I. It ranges from outlaw settlements on the Texas frontier to the cafés of Paris, from Indian encampments to artists’ ateliers to the forgotten battlefield in France where Ben Clayton died. It shows us the all-consuming labor that a monumental work of sculpture demands and the price it exacts from both artist and patron. And with unforgettable power and compassion it presents a deeply moving story about the bonds between fathers and children, and about the power and purpose of art.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Stephen Harrigan

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Stephen Harrigan is the author of seven previous books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels Challenger Park and the New York Times bestseller The Gates of the Alamo. A longtime writer for Texas Monthly and other magazines, he is also an award-winning screenwriter who has written many movies for television. He is a faculty fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas and a founding member of Capital Area Statues, Inc.
















Author Residence: Austin, TX
 
Published May 24, 2011 by Vintage. 369 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Remember Ben Clayton

Kirkus Reviews

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Gil feels that to make a masterpiece he has to come to “know” Ben, and he even goes to the cemetery in France where Ben is buried.

May 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Publishers Weekly

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Gil picks up quickly that there's plenty Lamar isn't telling him and becomes intrigued by Lamar's past: Lamar and his sister were kidnapped and raised by Indians, and the family of Lamar's housekeeper was massacred by Indians.

Mar 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

The Wall Street Journal

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Midway into Stephen Harrigan's expansive novel "Remember Ben Clayton" (Knopf, 353 pages, $26.95), a sculptor named Francis Gilheany, known as Gil, is commissioned by the Louisiana Historical Society to produce a statue of the explorer Robert de La Salle.

May 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

The Wall Street Journal

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Midway into Stephen Harrigan's expansive novel "Remember Ben Clayton" (Knopf, 353 pages, $26.95), a sculptor named Francis Gilheany, known as Gil, is commissioned by the Louisiana Historical Society to produce a statue of the explorer Robert de La Salle.

May 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

The Wall Street Journal

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Midway into Stephen Harrigan's expansive novel "Remember Ben Clayton" (Knopf, 353 pages, $26.95), a sculptor named Francis Gilheany, known as Gil, is commissioned by the Louisiana Historical Society to produce a statue of the explorer Robert de La Salle.

May 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Kirkus Reviews

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In his latest, the great American novelist carries readers from the battlefields of World War I to the Texas frontier in pursuit of a story Kirkus called, “A heartening novel about art, war and the tug of family relationships.” The book follows the collision of Gil Gilheaney, an aging sculptor of...

May 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

The Washington Times

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Lamar Clayton, a taciturn, old-fashioned West Texas rancher, is the central character in Stephen Harrigan's well-crafted novel "Remember Ben Clayton." As a young man, Lamar rode on a number of the great cattle drives from Texas to the stockyards in Kansas and lived the cowboy's life in full.

Sep 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Dallas News

Stephen Harrigan ranks among the finest atmospheric novelists.

May 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Bookmarks Magazine

His adult daughter, Maureen, serves as his assistant, although she has artistic ambitions of her own and is beginning to understand how her own career—perhaps even her life—has become hostage to her driven father’s “wild pursuit of glory.” When Lamar Clayton, an aging, heartbroken rancher, offers...

Aug 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Austin Chronicle

Near the center of his new novel, Stephen Harrigan plants a summary theory of art in the mind of the book's central protagonist, Francis "Gil" Gilheaney, a sculptor of historical monuments.

May 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Southern Lit Review

As Gil uncovers more about Ben, Lamar finds himself envious that this stranger from New York could understand Ben dead better than Lamar did while Ben was alive.

Jul 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Statesman.com

The line that separates the two is hazy, and Harrigan — who teaches writing at the University of Texas' Michener Center for Writers — acknowledges that through Gil: "He did not know how he did it, only that every so often he managed to vault past the barrier of skill and technique into the realm ...

May 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Remember Ben Clayton

Reader Rating for Remember Ben Clayton
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