Posts Tagged ‘picaresque’

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

September 28, 2011

Title:  The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

Author:  Udall, Brady

Publication Date:  2001

Number of Pages:  423

Genre:  Western

Geographical Setting:  The American West (mostly Arizona and Utah)

Time Period:  Modern setting, but otherwise unspecified date.  Spans first approximately thirty years of Edgar’s life.

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  At the age of seven, Edgar Presley Mint has his head run over by a mail truck.  Half Apache and half white, the story of Edgar Mint begins with his miraculous recovery in the hospital.  Abandoned by his alcoholic mother and crazed grandmother who give Edgar up for dead, Edgar is orphaned and sent to live at an Apache reservation school for delinquents with an old and distant uncle.  At the school, Edgar’s otherworldliness, introversion, and inability to socially mingle immediately type him as an outcast.  Armed with a typewriter and a dum-dum loving friend named Cecil, Edgar learns how to survive against the cruelty of children and the ignorance of adults while never losing his innocent yet perceptive outlook on life.  Edgar is then discovered and converted to the Mormon religion by two missionaries and is sent to live with a foster family in Utah, where he again struggles with the concepts of family, love, pain, and growing up.  The story is told from Edgar’s point of view, using alternating first-person and third-person perspectives.  The novel chronicles the life of Edgar from age seven until approximately age thirty, focusing on the years from 7-15 as Edgar encounters hardship after hardship, yet never completely losing faith that the miracle of his survival happened for a reason.  This is a beautifully written, picaresque novel that depicts the very unique character of Edgar Mint, a boy who doesn’t seem to fit anywhere yet tries with all his might to find the one place that he does.  Winner of the Spur Award (best novel of the American West) in 2002, it is thought-provoking and revealing, addressing real issues of Native Americans in the contemporary west, and emotionally engages the reader with Edgar’s quest from page one.

Subject Headings:  Apache Indians; Arizona; Head wounds and injuries; orphans; foster home care; boys; coming-of-age; Mormons; alcohol and drug abuse; families and family dysfunction; reservation schools; hospitals.

Appeal:  character centered, coming-of-age story, single point of view, linear storyline, emotionally engaging, moderately paced, picaresque, Dickensian storytelling, funny, heart-breaking, detailed setting, conversational, multicultural, quirky character, thoughtful, hopeful.

3 Terms that best describe this book: Emotionally engaging, funny, thoughtful

3 Relevant Authors and Works (Fiction): The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (also features young, disabled protagonist on a journey to self-discovery).  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (adventures of a young boy growing up in a specific racial climate). The Misadventures of Silk and Shakespeare by Winfred Blevins (coming-of-age story that takes place in the West, humorous tone like certain parts in Edgar)

3 Relevant Authors and Works (Nonfiction):  Addie  by Mary Lee Settle (a nonfiction memoir that recounts the childhood of a young girl in the Kahawha Valley of West Virginia during the Great Depression); Oh what a slaughter: massacres in the American West, 1846-1890 by Larry McMurtry (recounts the slaughter of Native Americans in the West, authored by prolific and well-respected Western writer); Sitting Bull by Bill Yenne (documents the life of Sitting Bull, starting from his youth).

Name:  Rebecca C.

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