By: Carter Coleman
(Hardcover / 400 Pages / Warner Books / ISBN: 0446576611 / $24.95)
Description: The death of the middle brother in a tight-knit Southern family has a long-lasting effect on older brother Cage and younger brother Harper in this insightful second novel by Coleman ('The Volunteer'). Nick Rutledge is killed in his mid-20s in 1987, in a head-on car collision. His death devastates everyone—his Tennessee minister father, Frank; his mother, Margaret; Cage; and Harper. It's Cage, however, who bears the largest burden of grief and hidden guilt, discovering in the meantime that he's manic-depressive and spiraling into a decade-long bout of drug and alcohol abuse.
Verdict: 'Cage's bend' is not a Southern novel in the traditional sense - though Coleman references William Faulkner, he doesn't tread the same ground, nor will he be mistaken for Larry Brown or Tom Franklin - but his descriptions of Memphis and Baton Rouge capture both cities perfectly. And though the book screams for a film adaptation, don't wait for such a release to dip into the lives of the Rutledges. There is no way that the film version of Cage's Bend' can be as good as the novel! Every family member has a voice in this book, with a seamless transition from one character to the next. It did take me a bit longer than usual to become engrossed in the story, but as soon as I did I was hooked. I found myself telling this tale to others and think it would make a wonderful book for a group discussion.
Reviewed by Mary Hall