The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom

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If quotation marks were good enough for them, quotation marks are good enough for Kent Wascom. You may grow so frustrated with this affectation of punctuation that you’re tempted to stop reading. But don’t quit. The Blood of Heaven is worth the work.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

One of the most powerful and impressive debuts Grove/Atlantic has ever published, The Blood of Heaven is an epic novel about the American frontier in the early days of the nineteenth century. Its twenty-six-year-old author, Kent Wascom, was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize for fiction, and this first novel shows the kind of talent rarely seen in any novelist, no matter their age.

The Blood of Heaven is the story of Angel Woolsack, a preacher’s son, who flees the hardscrabble life of his itinerant father, falls in with a charismatic highwayman, then settles with his adopted brothers on the rough frontier of West Florida, where American settlers are carving their place out of lands held by the Spaniards and the French. The novel moves from the bordellos of Natchez, where Angel meets his love Red Kate to the Mississippi River plantations, where the brutal system of slave labor is creating fantastic wealth along with terrible suffering, and finally to the back rooms of New Orleans among schemers, dreamers, and would-be revolutionaries plotting to break away from the young United States and create a new country under the leadership of the renegade founding father Aaron Burr.

The Blood of Heaven is a remarkable portrait of a young man seizing his place in a violent new world, a moving love story, and a vivid tale of ambition and political machinations that brilliantly captures the energy and wildness of a young America where anything was possible. It is a startling debut.
 

About Kent Wascom

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Kent Wascom was born in New Orleans in 1986, and spent his childhood in Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida. He attended Louisiana State University and received his MFA from Florida State University. In 2012, he won the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize for fiction, judged by Amy Hempel. Wascom lives in Tallahassee, Florida. The Blood of Heaven is his first novel.
 
Published June 4, 2013 by Grove Press. 464 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Blood of Heaven
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Feb 18 2013

The star-struck Angel loses his autonomy to become a tiny, uncomprehending cog in Burr’s machine, and the novel sinks into a quagmire of shifting historical alliances. A debut that has a certain mad zest but is seriously hurt by its lack of a trajectory.

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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by William Martin on Jun 04 2013

If quotation marks were good enough for them, quotation marks are good enough for Kent Wascom. You may grow so frustrated with this affectation of punctuation that you’re tempted to stop reading. But don’t quit. The Blood of Heaven is worth the work.

Read Full Review of The Blood of Heaven | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Jul 05 2013

Mr. Wascom's writing rolls from the page in torrents, like the sermon of a revivalist preacher in the grip of inspiration. You can't help listening...

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Drew Toal on Jun 12 2013

The Blood of Heaven's first quarter or so is undeniably excellent...the plot flags as Angel is pulled deeper into Burr's treacherous orbit, at times flat-lining completely before it is gruesomely resuscitated with Tarantino-esque jags of violence.

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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