Mary Glickman, the author of the bestselling debut novel, Home in the Morning (an Amazon Editors' Best of the Month pick in 2010), is celebrating the release of her highly-anticipated follow-up novel today. Set in the southern locales Mary writes so well, One More River tells the epic tale of ordinary men caught in the grip of calamity, and inspired to extraordinary acts in the name of love.
Glickman’s work echoes some of the great Southern writers who have inspired her, such as Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy, and follows in the great tradition of Jewish authors, including Chaim Potok and Saul Bellow. Book clubs will delight in this literary novel that lends itself to a night of deep discussion.
Here, Mary shares with us a little bit about this novel and how it came to be:
One More River tells the back-story of one of Home in the Morning’s most vibrant characters, Mickey Moe Levy, and particularly of his romance with his future wife, Laura Anne. We’re in the Deep South in 1962 and, although the two fall in love hard and fast, her parents withhold their approval until Mickey Moe can prove the quality of his people, as it seems Mickey Moe’s daddy was discovered to be an imposter after his death in World War II.
That man, Bernard Levy, was of suspect means from the day he appeared in Guilford, Mississippi—and stole the heart of the beauty of the Sassaport family, Mickey Moe’s mama, Beadie—but the size of his purse quieted all doubts and allowed him to play the role of moneyed gentry until his death exposed it all as a sham. Twenty years later, the clues of who he might have been have gone stale. Beadie isn’t talking and Bald Horace—a local black man addled by time, trouble, and disease, the man who knew his daddy best—provides only the slimmest evidence. Still Mickey Moe takes what meager information he has and embarks on a quest to discover his daddy’s identity, a quest that leads him into the backwoods of Mississippi and Tennessee during the violent crisis of the civil rights era. Unable to sit idly by, Laura Anne runs away to join him. Her brave, liberating act unwittingly leads him into the heart of danger at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan.
Told parallel to their adventures is the story of Bernard Levy, a quixotic lover in his own right, by turns a Mississippi river rat, common laborer, penitent thief, and noble saint. His story takes us from his birth in 1905 to his death at the Battle of the Bulge and encompasses the one of the greatest natural disasters in American history, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, when the river overflowed as much as fifty miles on either bank from Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, displacing a million people, and changing the course of the economic history of the South.
When I was between novels and casting about for a subject, I only knew that I wasn’t done with Mickey Moe Levy from Morning. He has a secondary role in that story, but he exudes charm and likeability and I couldn’t just put him away. There’s an elemental aspect to both Mickey Moe and his father, Bernard Levy, that I find irresistible in men—or should I say characters—because the kind of Frank Capra-esque men I admire don’t often exist anymore. These are men with strong passions and high ideals, with perhaps foolish, perhaps courageous determination to love well and live honestly. In my mind, when such men—and women—come up against life’s cruel realities, great drama and inspiration are born. Sometimes they are crushed, but they retain a nobility. Sometimes they succeed. Always, they go on, true to themselves.
So once I was focused on Mickey Moe, I gave him a mystery around his lineage because lineage is very important in the South and that dilemma would ground the story both in its era and in its setting. At the same time, my husband was reading Rising Tide, by John M. Barry, a remarkable nonfiction account of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. His enthusiasm for the text infected me. He read me bits and pieces aloud and that sparked my imagination. Here was just the kind of cruel reality that could serve as a perfect playing field for my themes.