Jennifer Armstrong
May 02, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Willem's Field

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Melinda Haynes
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

The tiniest things can send 70-year-old Willem into a debilitating panic attack: In the opening scene, it’s a waitress’ body odor and the ridiculous paper crowns that adorn Ruby’s Regal Truck Stop. Around this fragile hero and the folks he encounters on a visit to his Mississippi hometown, Haynes (author of 1999’s Oprah-approved Mother of Pearl) fashions a circa-1974 look at how tiny actions can add up to big consequences. From the matriarch of the family now farming what was once Willem’s father’s land to the pair of preschool-age boys whose mom runs the local motel while their dad plans a jewelry heist, no character escapes without a full examination. The result is a lush portrait of a crop of Southerners who defy expectations.

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