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the nine mile circle by Pati Hill
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the nine mile circle (1957)

by Pati Hill

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Pati Hill came to my attention about a year ago, probably through Book Riot or Powell's, or one of the other sites I follow on Tumblr or Facebook, when she up and died at the age of 93. I had never heard of her before, but a reference to William Faulkner in her New York Times obituary made it inevitable that I would seek out her work. She wrote novels in the 1950's and 1960's, and then turned to creating art with the use of an IBM photocopier. This, apparently, turned out to be her true "thing", and she gave up writing fiction. Earlier, she hung out in France with the ex-pats, including George Plimpton and the founders of The Paris Review. The Nine Mile Circle is rooted in her own childhood, and it's a free-wheeling ride down the hot dirt road its title refers to...."Look, Ma! No Hands!". I loved it, but it took a bit to get into its rhythm and style, which flirts with stream of consciousness (hence, I suppose, the linkage with Faulkner). There is, however, no single consciousness, and the stream meanders lyrically through the countryside. The action takes place during one summer, when Mrs. Carter languishes in the late stages of her third pregnancy (which she isn't the least bit happy about), leaving her adolescent daughter, Linda, to fend for herself with a new friend, Jan, who's spending the summer with aunts nearby. We drift from Mrs. Carter's head into Linda's, then off to the old aunts' (spinsters, naturally) as well as various other past and present residents of the small town, whose histories we begin to piece together. It's short, and compelling, and I immediately scrounged around e-Bay and Amazon to find a couple more of Hill's books. They are scarce and sometimes mighty pricey, but I'd highly recommend The Nine Mile Circle to like-minded readers, if you can locate a copy.
August 2015 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Sep 4, 2015 |
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For Alain
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That summer Mrs. Carter never slept till dawn.
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