Padgett Powell has received the Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Whiting Writer`s Award, and a nomination for the National Book Award. He teaches in Gainesville, Florida, where he was born in 1952. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper`s, and many other periodicals.
Simons Everson Manigault ("You say it `Simmons.` I`m a rare one-m Simons") lives with his mother, an eccentric professor (known as the Duchess), on an isolated and undeveloped strip of South Carolina coast. Convinced that her son can be a writer of genius, the Duchess has immersed Simons in the literary classics since birth ("Like some kids swat mobiles, I was to thumb pages") and has given him free rein to gather materials in such spots as the Baby Grand, a local black nightclub. ("It was an assignment. I`m supposed to write. I`m supposed to get good at it.")
Although possessed of a vocabulary and sophistication beyond his years, Simons feels the normal adolescent bewilderment about the behavior of his parents. His conventional father, the Progenitor, has recently left the family in a dispute over Simon`s upbringing and has moved to nearby Hilton Head, where he would like to see his son raised among the orthodox surroundings of condominiums, country clubs, and private schools. At the book`s center is Taurus, an enigmatic father-surrogate who tutors the boy in the art of watching the world without presumption.
Edisto is, as Walker Percy observed, "a truly remarkable first novel, both as a narrative and in its extraordinary use of language. It reminds one of The Catcher in the Rye, but it`s better - sharper, funnier, and more poignant."
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