Michael C. White's new novel, Soul Catcher, will be published by William Morrow in September 2007. Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls, has said of Soul Catcher, "The book will be compared to Cold Mountain of course, but White’s book is a more dramatic narrative and every bit as richly detailed and beautifully written. Read more...
The Garden of Martyrs
From the critically acclaimed and Edgar-nominated author, this novel of actual events of 1806 resonates with today's issues of jingoism and religious intolerance. Read more...
A Brother's Blood
This novel is set in a small Maine village, where in 1945 German prisoners worked in a logging camp. When the brother of an ex-prisoner turns up seeking information on the murder of his brother after he escaped from the camp, it rouses old and disturbing memories for Libby Pelletier, the narrator. Read more...
The Blind Side of the Heart
From the author of the critically acclaimed novel A Brother's Blood, comes a haunting story about an Irish housekeeper named Maggie Quinn, who must discover the truth when her friend, the parish priest, is accused of horrible crimes. Read more...
A Dream of Wolves
Stuart Jordan, otherwise known as Doc, [is] an obstetrician who's also the medical examiner in Hubbard County, North Carolina. Doc exists in a kind of emotional limbo. His manic depressive wife Annabel is given to disappearing for long stretches of time, reappearing just as he is beginning to think about moving on with his life, which was shattered when their son died in an accident years before. Read more...
New from the author of the critically acclaimed novels, A Brother's Blood and The Blind Side of the Heart, Marked Men is a gripping collection of twelve wide-ranging stories about those unexpected moments in our lives when the layers of our defenses are peeled away, one by one, and we are left with the harsh inevitability of our fates. Read more...
see Discussion Questions for books below
From the critically acclaimed and Edgar-nominated author, this novel of actual events of 1806 resonates with today's issues of jingoism and religious intolerance.
"This miscarriage of justice is the subject of a riveting new novel called The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White" Irish America Magazine
In this powerful novel based on an actual case, two Irish immigrants are arrested, convicted and executed for the callous murder of a traveler on the Boston Post Road in 1806. Daley, a simple family man with a young son, and Halligan, a man with a checkered past and a lost love, face their deaths bravely with the help of a Catholic priest from France with his own private shame. Victims of anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic prejudice, the tragedy of the Irishmen's execution is underscored by the fact that modern evidence has exonerated them of the crime.
Michael C. White vividly captures the political, social, and cultural context of early Boston. He illustrates the conflict felt by the church , which must weigh the impact of supporting their accused parishioners against their tenuous foothold in the city. This heartbreaking story will satisfy White's host of fans, and will win him many new readers.
"In a book filled with harrowing violent scenes fueled by religious hatred, an open-minded, nonjudgmental grace shines through."
The Hartford Courant
Discussion Questions for The Garden of Martyrs
1. What does the garden of martyrs in the title refer to?
2. While Daley and Halligan are both Irish, the novel presents them as quite different men. In what ways are they different?
3. Halligan is a man very much troubled by a love he left behind in Ireland. Cheverus tries to help him confess his sins but Halligan is not, as he himself concedes, particularly religious. As he approaches his death, what conclusion does he reach about the nature of love and forgiveness?
4. Though they are intellectually and spiritually opposite, both Cheverus and Halligan have dark secrets in their pasts. How do the inner conflicts resulting from those secrets bring the two men closer together?
5. Why is Cheverus, as a representative of the Catholic Church, at first reluctant to get involved with the fate of the two Irishmen?
6. Cheverus finds in his "heart of hearts" some of the same prejudices and biases toward the Irish that the general populace holds. Why is this and how does he finally overcome them?
7. Finola Daley makes Father Cheverus uncomfortable. Why?
8. The three main characters are all immigrants. How is the novel, however, about the quintessential American spirit?
This novel is set in a small Maine village, where in 1945 German prisoners worked in a logging camp. When the brother of an ex-prisoner turns up seeking information on the murder of his brother after he escaped from the camp, it rouses old and disturbing memories for Libby Pelletier, the narrator. Though Libby is reluctant to remember what she knows, much less talk about it, she finds it inevitable when violence returns and her brother is killed. The link between the murders is the mystery that drives this story of passion, cruelty, and ignorance.
"Remarkably controlled for a first novel, this literary thriller from a Pushcart nominee for short fiction tells of a malignant secret that comes back to haunt the denizens of a backwoods Maine logging community that was once the site of a WWII labor camp for German POWs . . . Shuttling deftly between past and present, driven by undercurrents of latent energy, this novel marks White as a talented and energetic writer."
"A stark, stunningly well-written first novel by Michael C. White, a Pushcart nominee for earlier, shorter works of fiction."
The New York Times Book Review
"In brilliantly understated prose, White captures perfectly the insularity and claustrophobia of a small New England town, the gruff eccentricity of its inhabitants, the brusque pride of a lonely spinster, and the moral tragedy of war. This dazzling first novel deserves a place in all collections."
"[White's] strength lies in his characters and his use of language to evoke the dark woods of rural Maine and the even darker lives of the people who spent the war years there. Readers of Guterson's work will probably find White's equally rewarding."
The Denver Post
Discussion Questions for A Brother's Blood
1. In the novel, Libby is at first reluctant to question the past. Why is she reluctant? What begins her transformation?
2. Libby is not a typical symbol of femininity. Her mother said that with her looks she would have to try harder to get a man. Several people have made fun of her cleft lip, yet she has no lack of male suitors. Discuss Libby as a feminine symbol.
3. Libby has always protected her brother Leon. And yet in part because of him, she was never able to have a life, a husband, and a family. What does Leon represent to Libby?
4. Ambrose is a complex character. A drunkard, he is gruff and distant from his family, yet by the end of the novel, we see him in different terms. Why?
5. The setting of this novel can almost be looked upon as another character. How does the bleak Maine landscape contribute to the tension of the book?
6. Libby was abandoned by her mother at a young age. How does this affect her? Does she ultimately resolve her conflict about being left alone?
7. The title comes from Genesis: The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. Discuss as many possible implications of this as they appear in the novel.
8. Did the horror of the Holocaust and the atrocities on the German side diminish the concern of the local citizens about the death of a German?
9. Why did the author choose to tell the story from a female point of view?
From the author of the critically acclaimed novel A Brother's Blood, comes a haunting story about an Irish housekeeper named Maggie Quinn, who must discover the truth when her friend, the parish priest, is accused of horrible crimes.
"The cruel beauty of Michael C. White's spare, unflinching prose leaves the narrator of The Blind Side of the Heart nowhere to hide . . . a meditation on the mysteries of love and loyalty."
New York Times Book Review
"The Blind Side of the Heart is . . . a mystery novel of unusual emotional texture told in a voice at once knowing and naïve, trustworthy and dubious."
The Washington Post
"White works remarkable magic in this stunning novel . . . explosive and heartbreaking."
"White's detailed and engrossing second novel follows class tensions, shame and loyalty among New England's Irish-American Catholics when a scandal shakes a small-town church. . . . Though her judgment seems rock solid, Maggie's drinking undermines her credibility as a narrator. [Maggie's] melancholy, singular voice is so strong, her faith in herself and in Father Jack so compelling, that readers will speed through the book in order to discover the truth."
"White has received high praise for earlier works, and this latest offering should be equally well received. Its taut suspense, well-crafted characters, and dense atmosphere of justice and belief are compelling. Highly recommended."
Discussion questions for The Blind Side of the Heart
1. Why does Maggie defend Father Jack so doggedly?
2. What are some of the implications of the novel's title?
3. Near the end of the novel Maggie is folding clothes and thinks back to a time when she saw Justin come to the back door. She thinks about him and Father Jack in a certain new light. In what way does she look upon them?
4. What does the novel say about small towns?
5. Priest abuse has grown into a national problem, one of enormous implications for the Catholic Church. Does the novel take sides in this debate?
6. Does Mr. Leo love Maggie? How do his feelings for her "blind" him to certain things?
Stuart Jordan, otherwise known as "Doc," [is] an obstetrician who's also the medical examiner in Hubbard County, North Carolina. Doc exists in a kind of emotional limbo. His manic depressive wife Annabel is given to disappearing for long stretches of time, reappearing just as he is beginning to think about moving on with his life, which was shattered when their son died in an accident years before. Called to a murder scene where a silent woman sits nursing her baby amidst the blood and gore, Doc makes a promise to the accused woman that results in his taking temporary custody of the infant, against the wishes of her paternal family, a clan of petty thugs and criminals who nonetheless want the dead man's daughter. Doc is also embroiled in another emotional storm: his mistress, the D.A. who will be prosecuting the baby's mother for murder, is pressuring him to divorce Annabel, despite the fact that she's still married herself.
"Beautifully written and intriguingly suspenseful . . . A marvelous evocation of place and character . . . A raw and powerful achievement."
Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife
"White is clearly in control of the many characters here, and he skillfully evokes the class tensions, racism, and anti-Yankee sentiment of this region."
New York Times Book Review
"A Dream of Wolves recalls Faulkner's ability to create a plausible imaginary universe in which painful moral choices do not depend on health, wealth, or position."
Jacquelyn Mitchard, The Deep End of the Ocean
"Jordan's is the kind of wise, flawed narrator's voice you want to keep listening to; his takes on Appalachia are eye-opening; his takes on human nature, wrenching."
"White . . . skillfully swirls gut-wrenching self-discovery and mystery in his newest fictional offering. . . White's emotionally packed novel delivers first-class examinations of morality, mixing strong supporting characters and unexpected plot turns, enveloping the reader in an extraordinary story."
Questions for discussion: A Dream of Wolves
1. Doc Jordan is, as he himself admits and as his friend, Cecil Clegg says, a Yankee, an outsider in this insular world of mountain people. What makes him such an ideal narrator? Why didn't the author choose a narrator who is from Hubbard County?
2. The Prologue begins with the following quote: "What I know of death is how hard we work to deserve it and how little we appreciate it when it finally comes." Given what happens later in the novel, what is the significance of this statement?
3. The women in Doc's life, his estranged wife Annabel and his new lover Bobbie, have very different personalities. What attracts Doc to each woman?
4. Babies as well as the process of childbearing is very important to the novel. Discuss the various ways babies and woman giving birth are significant to the story.
5. Doc Jordan is a man who is confronted by several moral, emotional, and legal choices. What are those choices and what are the repercussions of each?
6. There are several contradictions in Doc's life. For example, his day job, as he calls it, is nurturing life, while his night job, that of part-time ME, is "working the other end of the line." Discuss this and other contradictions in his life.
7. Several other women are important to Doc. Who are they and how are they significant to him? How do they affect him?
8. After Doc's meeting with Leonard Blackfox, when he learns about the events of the night of the murder, there's one thing that is still unclear to Doc. What is it and how does he handle it?
9. Dreams are an important device in the novel, starting right with the title. Discuss how dreams are used here.
New from the author of the critically acclaimed novels, A Brother's Blood and The Blind Side of the Heart, Marked Men is a gripping collection of twelve wide-ranging stories about those unexpected moments in our lives when the layers of our defenses are peeled away, one by one, and we are left with the harsh inevitability of our fates. Touching on themes of loneliness and isolation, White deals with characters who have been alienated from society, from family and friends, from their past, and sometimes from their own feelings.
"What does it take to derail a life? In White's first story collection . . . it can be something dramatic, like the death of a child or a crippling accident, or it can be something more quiet, like an early retirement or just too many years on the road. White seizes on pivotal incidents like these in 12 thoughtful tales about doggedly regular people and their private struggles to make one day move into the next. In the title story, a father and son, one a veteran of WWII, the other of Vietnam, drink through a long night, arguing about who had a more difficult tour of duty. Intent on judging who suffered most, they seem unable to recognize how intimately their experiences connect them. In "Burn Patterns," a traveling arson investigator is jerked out of his numbing routine when he picks up a quirky female hitchhiker, while in "Disturbances," a rural doctor is more literally yanked awake by a late-night call to pronounce a man dead. He does indeed find the man stone cold, blown open by a shotgun, but also discovers a complicated moral situation that stirs old memories. Like that story, "Ray's Shoes" shows ordinary people in a situation more complex than they had anticipated, as a couple agrees to help a young man whose wife has just died . . . White offers simple observations that resonate in the reader's mind."
"In his debut collection, Marked Men, Michael C. White, novelist and founding editor of the annual anthology American Fiction, explores buried fears and hopes with equal delicacy and sureness. These stories proceed at an unhurried pace and in a quiet style, as White tactfully feels his way around his characters - wounded psyches."
The Georgia Review
Cain and Rosetta’s journey is no easy passage, and that ratchets up the dramatic stakes. But while CATCHER reads like an adventure story, the book has its own impressive weight. Slavery and its effects are clearly and effectively portrayed as the worm in the American apple, and that gives Cain’s personal journey a metaphorical heft similar to Huck Finn’s. It’s an important book."
White is the author of four other novels: A Brother’s Blood, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers nominee; The Blind Side of the Heart, an Alternate Book-of-the-Month Club selection; A Dream of Wolves, which received starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly; and The Garden of Martyrs. A collection of his short stories, Marked Men, was published by the University of Missouri Press. He has also published over 45 short stories in national magazines and journals, and has won the Advocate Newspapers Fiction Award and been nominated for both a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart. He was the founding editor of the yearly fiction anthology American Fiction. Currently he is the editor of Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose.
He teaches fiction writing workshops and literature courses at Fairfield University, and is on the faculty of Stonecoast, the University of Southern Maine’s low-residency MFA program. He lives on a lake in Guilford, CT, with his black lab Henry.
Critical acclaim for Soul Catcher
"Like everything else in this book, he's [Augustus Cain] ripe for filming: a hard-drinking, straight-talking, scarred-but-sexy cavalier with a passion for Milton . . . The pages turn effortlessly and White's pacy plotting and bold handling of America's bitter past should ensure him a place on the bestseller lists for years to come." Financial Times, England
Soul Catcher is a marvelous historical novel . . . the perfect book if you or someone you love has worn out the DVD's in Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War, hyperventilates at the mere mention of Cold Mountain or yearns for stories about psychologically damaged men on horseback, a la Lonesome Dove . . . an insightful journey of human redemption." —USA Today"
"A galloping good tale about runaway slaves and a tortured soul who hunts them against his better nature...[A] vividly imagined historical novel ... His greatest accomplishment is Cain, the conflicted Southerner who goes through the moral reckoning that all Americans were soon to face in the Civil War and its aftermath. His contradictions remind us that when it comes to race, things have never been black and white in this country.” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Michael White transports readers to the chaotic years before the Civil War in Soul Catcher...Reminiscent of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn—both in subject (slavery) and in combining an arduous physical journey with the protagonist’s interior moral journey—the story gallops with action yet also examines such themes as race, honor and redemption...Michael White’s eloquent prose rarely draws attention to itself, and his extensive historical research creates evocative descriptions of the people, places and even products of the mid-19th century...Soul Catcher is an exceptional novel from an experienced literary craftsman.”
— Charlotte Observer
“A sweeping novel spanning the tumultuous time in American history...White has created a complicated and deeply scarred protagonist looking for salvation in a dark vision of human bondage...Very convincing and well wrought.”
— Library Journal
"Soul Catcher strips bare the myths of the antebellum South and exposes the corrupt society it truly was. In a brilliant homage to Paradise Lost, White examines the moral dilemmas of human existence through protagonist Augustus Cain: The slave-catcher must decide whether he will have a heaven or hell on earth. This novel is destined to join the ranks of great Civil War literature." —Booksense, Editors' Choice Selection
“[A] heartbreaking story...Devastating in its final impact.”
“Captivating and enlightening...A pre-Civil War saga historical saga that quickly becomes a page-turner...With Soul Catcher, White has penned a historical adventure, a romance, a perceptive commentary on slavery’s ills and a thoughtful character study—all wrapped up in this highly recommended novel.” —Bookpage
“Soul Catcher [is] a good, old-fashioned page turner, with shootouts, ambushes, and horse chases that honestly will have you reading late into the night to see what happens next . . . a thoughtful exploration of a nation living with a brutal institution that contradicts its highest ideals. However busy you may be, you won't regret making time for this book." — Boston Globe
“[White’s] dialogue and good use of detail lend an authenticity to the characters and the era . . . a beautiful page turner.” — Associated Press
“Soul Catcher has as many twists and turns as a good thriller; most readers will probably be unable to predict what happens in the final pages.” — Connecticut Post
“Sweeping...The trek becomes a means of redemption for both the ‘soul catcher’ and his captives, and paints an unsettling portrait of a nation on the brink of civil war...Vivid...The book succeeds in presenting a fractious era and a host of moral quagmires. Cain—a flawed and coarse antihero—become emblematic of a historical moment under White’s sure hand.”
— Publishers Weekly
"White teaches us the power of strong characterization and breathing new life into common human situations. He brilliantly brings the violence and divided loyalties of the antebellum years to life." —Historial Novels Review, Editor's Selection
"This pre-Civil War historical thriller provides a fabulous account of a nation struggling for its soul. Cain in many ways is symbolic of the non-slave states of the United States in the 1850s . . . Cain makes for a strong morality tale." — Bookcrossing.com
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