November evenings are quiet and still and dry. The frost-stripped trees and the bleached grasses glisten and shine in the small light. In the winter-emptied fields granite outcroppings gleam white and stark. The bones of the earth, old people call them. In the deepest fold of the land--to the southwest where the sun went down solid and red not long ago--the Providence river reflects a little grey light. The river is small this time of year, drought-shrunken. It turns back the sky, dully, like an old mirror.
As I stand there in the immaculate evening I do not find it strange to be fighting an entire town, a whole county. I am alone, yes, of course I am, but I am not particularly afraid. The house was empty and lonely before--I just did not realize it--it's no worse now. I know that I shall hurt as much as I have been hurt. I shall destroy as much as I have lost.
It's a way to live, you know. It's a way to keep your heart ticking under the sheltering arches of your ribs. And that's enough for now.
These are the first and last paragraphs of the brief first section of Chapter 1 of [b:The Keepers of the House|266978|The Keepers of the House|Shirley Ann Grau|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320390393s/266978.jpg|258855], a wonderful tale of several generations of a Southern family. It is a delicious slice of Southern culture and of the painful effects of sex-roles and racial conflicts on the lives of the family's members. The characters are strong and interesting and well-rounded. The prose is clear and evocative of the Southern climate and landscape. If you want a taste of Mississippi across generations and don't want to do the hard work of reading Faulkner, this one will give you an easier, but in many ways similar, experience. This one earned its Pulitzer.