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A lost American classic to rival anything by Faulkner

John Ehle's The Landbreakers contains one of the most frightening passages in American literature

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

The Land Breakers John Ehle

NYRB Classics, pp.368, £11.99

It’s rare that granitic and iron-jawed prose is also enveloping and warm, but that’s just one of the many enticing literary paradoxes in the American writer John Ehle’s 1964 novel The Land Breakers. The work was the first of seven volumes that Ehle dubbed his ‘mountain novels’, books which today tend to get tagged as historical, a disservice that has kept Ehle a peg below some of the southern heavies (including even Faulkner) whom he sometimes manages to eclipse.

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