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A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines

A Gathering of Old Men

by Ernest J. Gaines

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The Short of It:

A short but powerful read.

The Rest of It:

Borrowed from Goodreads:

Set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s, A Gathering of Old Men is a powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, racial tension is at an all-time high. How fitting that our book club chose A Gathering of Old Men for this month’s meeting. Of course, we picked the book back in January so we had no idea how it would mesh with current events but mesh, it certainly does.

The story is told very simply and perhaps that is what makes it so powerful. The book opens with the death of a Cajun farmer and in order to protect the person who did it, Candy, a white woman, confesses to the crime. Realizing that many will not believe her story, she gathers a group of elderly black men, all with shotguns, thinking that it will be impossible to investigate the crime if she and others come forward and take responsibility for what happened.

This story has many narrators, all of them distinct. With so many narrators, sometimes it’s hard to follow a story through but I enjoyed the different points of view. This is a book that you should take some time reading. It’s short but there is a lot to digest and think about. And when these men come together to stand-up for what they believe in, the outcome is somewhat unexpected.

My book club will be discussing this book during the holiday gathering that we have every year so I hope we actually get to discuss the book. I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Dec 9, 2014 |
I read this with great enjoyment, thinking at the back of my mind however: Wish fulfillment. Fairy tale. Not the black-empowerment part, but the number of white people portrayed as actually having learned some lessons from history. On the other hand -- Gaines grew up right there, in circumstances as deprived as any of the characters of this novel. And he has chosen go right back there to end his days. So who am I to tell him he's wrong in being hopeful?

Moreover it is easier to believe this of the rural South, where blacks and whites, as individuals, grow up on terms of lifelong intimacy, than of racially-sorted urban America.

(Also Gaines portrays big-time college sports, a blight on society in the minds of the right-thinking and progressive, as a force for good. Food for thought.)
  sonofcarc | Jan 6, 2014 |
A killing on a former plantation brings out courage in a gathering of old, former sharecroppers. Interesting style as the author flits from one person to another telling bits of the story. ( )
  addunn3 | May 2, 2013 |
Destined to be one of my top reads for 2012, this is a powerful tale of the deep south and the terrible bigotry that existed in the 1970's.

When a son of the local, powerful white racist is killed, it takes a strong white woman to gather the old black men to rally.

When each man arrives on the porch, gun in hand, they await the sheriff and the local near do wells who will seek revenge.

When the sheriff demands to know who is to blame, each and every older gentleman claims he was the culprit.

Each chapter, excellently, compellingly written from the perspective of each man, tells a tale of subjugation at the hands of the white racists and the need to finally take a stand against intolerance and evil.

There is power in this book-- mighty, mighty power.

Highly recommended!! ( )
1 vote Whisper1 | Feb 9, 2012 |
A white man is murdered by a black man, and to protect the murderer, the woman who owns the former plantation where the murder took place determines to muddy the waters. She invites the old men who live on her land and nearby to come with the identical gun and shells. They come, but in addition, they choose that they will no longer be intimidated or abused by the white men. They decide they are willing to be beaten, go to jail, or perhaps even die before they will be less than men. Each chapter tells the next part of the story from a different person's point of view. Instead of being confusing, the narrative is deepened and intensified by the changing points of view. Knowing who you are, no matter what other people think you are or treat you as can change your life, can change the world. ( )
  nittnut | Jan 23, 2012 |
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I heard Candy out in the front yard calling Gram Mon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679738908, Paperback)

Set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s, A Gathering of Old Men is a powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man.

"Poignant, powerful, earthy...a novel of Southern racial confrontation in which a group of elderly black men band together against whites who seek vengeance for the murder of one of their own."--Booklist

"A fine novel...there is a denouement that will shock and move readers as much as it does the characters."--Philadelphia Inquirer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Set on a Louisiana sugar cane plantation in the 1970s, the book is a powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man.

» see all 2 descriptions

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