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Each Vagabond By Name by Margo Orlando…
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Each Vagabond By Name

by Margo Orlando Littell

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It's easy to immediately immerse myself in Littell's literary style. She draws fully formed characters without drowning the reader in every detail of the moment. Here's a taste of the types of passages you'll find. This one was a personal favorite. (Don't worry, there's no spoilers.):

"When the sun lightened the rooms, he stopped cleaning. He opened the front door to let in the fresh, cold air, and made coffee. He sat at his table and sipped it while it was near-boiling. The heat burned his tongue. His eye watered, and he sipped again. The pale pre-morning light lapping at the sky made him feel old and even more alone. There were no night-sounds now, just the slam of someone's car door. It was that slam that did it, that slam that sounded like every other slamming door he'd ever heard in his life. Maybe Liza was right - maybe it was time he left. He could do exactly this - sitting and sipping - anywhere in the world."

The main characters tackle issues of a changing local landscape and fear of newcomers. Yet, the real genius of the novel is that it captures the zeitgeist of our current times without any of the details you'd find in reality to mire the story in politics. ( )
  SerendipityMarie | Oct 27, 2017 |
There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood-
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.
- A Vagabond Song by Bliss Carman

With a deeply atmospheric epigraph, Margo Orlando Littell slips the reader gently amongst the fallen leaves and burnished early October hues of a small, sleepy Pennsylvania town named Shelk. 'Nestled in coal-poor mountains that held nothing but white pines, eastern hemlocks, and American beeches,' Shelk is a place of routine, of safety, for its residents. However, long time roots are about to be shaken as a one-eyed man sees a hint of hope lingering in the fall skies and strangers arrive in the mountains.

Told from the perspective of Zaccariah Ramsy, the owner of a log cabin turned bar hidden in the Shelk mountains, Each Vagabond is a novel tenderly wrought. It speaks throughout of roots and the desire to belong to something, to some place, and to someone and stirs the human need for such in its readers.

With a sweeping, slow pace that builds into a torrent of both action and emotion, Littell's debut novel is a skilled piece that has inspired me to keep an eye out for future projects. While there were parts that were a little too prolonged for my preference and some confusing bits that had me doubling back a page or so to double check the backstory of a character (something that might be fixed in the published edition as this was an ARC), Littell completely demolished me with her apt portrayal of loss, longing, and personal discovery.

There are a lot of writers who can write about loss; it's part of the human experience and, at some point or another, we all have something to drawn from in that area. However, I've found that writers that can write about different kinds of loss from a truly empathetic and nuanced perspective are far fewer in number. I tend to marvel at such authors, at the depth they're able to draw from and the shape and context that they're then able to provide their characters.

Each Vagabond is a beautiful piece and I would recommend it for anyone that is looking for a read that will submerge them in its build and its characters.

I'd like to thank NetGalley and the University of New Orleans Press for the opportunity to read an ARC of this title.

Also, I'm very grateful to Margo Orlando Littell for sending me a beautiful signed bookplate. The bookplates are offered to the first 50 people that respond on UNO Press.


[Instagram post on @Thewoman_reading; the art on the bookplate and inside the envelope is lovely.] ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
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"Ramsy's bar is where locals gather to drink and to forget after a day in the mines in Shelk, Pennsylvania. Stella, the lone woman in their ranks, has the most to forget--the unsolved disappearance of her only child. When a group of thieving outsiders settles in the hills and begins to invade their homes and lives, lines become drawn between those residents seeking to insulate themselves from the outside world and those reaching for more. Ramsy and Stella are caught in the middle of this clash. Ramsy's quiet existence is threatened by his loyalty to a runaway who lives in the hills. And Stella suspects her long-missing child may be living among the outsiders--she too finds herself growing sympathetic to the thieves. As tensions between the townspeople and the newcomers rise, both Ramsy and Stella must decide which side they are on"--… (more)

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