Journeyman: A Novel (Brown Thrasher Books)
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Written immediately following Tobacco Road and God's Little Acre, this novel introduces one of Erskine Caldwell's most memorable characters: the philandering, murderous itinerant preacher, Semon Dye. Part allegory, part tall tale, and with a good measure of old frontier humor, Journeyman,/i> tells of a stranger, as devilish as he is divine, who mysteriously arrives in Rocky Comfort, Georgia, and, inside of a week, nearly tears the small community apart.
Helping Rocky Comfort's citizens to rationalize their vices and weaknesses, Semon Dye then uses their flaws to his own advantage. Offering no forgiveness for their actions and no justification for his own, he confronts the people of Rocky Comfort with their own sins as he gambles, drinks, carouses, and fights along with them.
Culminating in a tumultuous, ecstatic revival, Journeyman is filled with insights into human nature and the physical and emotional components of religious fervor. This volume reprints the complete text of Journeyman as it was first published, before the more widely circulated edition, expurgated in the aftermath of the legal battles waged against God's Little Acre, was released.
money to see Lorene. It don’t look to me like the two go hand-in-hand. Maybe they do, but it don’t look like they ought to, somehow.” “Stop arguing, Clay, and get down here,” Lorene said, pulling at his hand. “So much talking back at each other won’t do any good.” She pulled Clay down on his knees beside her. Clay waited for Semon to go down the ladder; but he sat down on a bundle of fodder instead, showing that he had no intention of leaving the loft. “I don’t reckon anybody else will be
look through it all morning sometimes. There’s not a doggone thing to see but the trees over there, and maybe the fence posts, but I can’t keep from looking to save my soul. It’s the doggonest thing I ever saw in all my life.” Semon settled himself more comfortably on the stool. “There’s not a single thing to see,” Tom said, “and then again there’s the whole world to look at. Looking through the side of the shed ain’t like nothing else I can think of. You sit there a while, and the first thing
said. “I don’t like that one bit.” Semon smiled down at Dene, and she looked up at him. He stroked her some more. “See there, coz?” Semon said, looking at Clay. “What did I tell you? That’s all it takes to tame the wildest colt or the most fidgety woman. Seeing is believing, ain’t it, coz?” Clay pushed Dene towards a chair. She sat down quickly, looking first at one and then the other. Clay felt relieved when she sat down. He glared across at Semon. “Dene never got accustomed to a stranger
Semon got up and took several steps. He found that he was too exhausted to move. He sat down at a desk, holding his head in his hands. He felt sick and discouraged. He had saved perhaps forty people that night; but the most hardened sinner he could not help. Lorene had sat through the meeting unmoved and, in the end, unsaved. Semon got up and started blowing out the smoking lamps. It was then, when he was ready to leave the building, that he remembered that he had forgotten to take up the
racial attitudes he encountered in his heralded In Search of Bisco. Caldwell spent much of his later years traveling and writing while living with his fourth wife, Virginia, in Arizona. A lifelong smoker, Caldwell died of lung cancer in 1987. A baby portrait of Erskine Caldwell. Born December 17, 1903, in White Oak, Georgia, to a Presbyterian minister and a schoolteacher, Caldwell would later describe his childhood home as “an isolated farm deep in the piney-woods country of the red clay hills