Square Dance

The Blackland prairie of Texas, early 1950s. Homer Dillard, a cantankerous old man, and his eleven-year-old precocious and Bible-toting granddaughter, Gemma, live together on a tumbledown chicken farm and sell eggs door to door in the nearby small town of Twilight. Dillard is eighty years old, left by his wife and by his daughter, Gemma’s mother. Both have been abandoned, and their grudging loyalty to each other is at once fierce and touching. Incensed by Dillard’s cussedness, Gemma finally packs up out of moral indignation and strikes off for the supposed glamour of Fort Worth, where her estranged mother lives as a hairdresser.

“A faithful, finely detailed depiction of a young girl’s growing up in the Texas Bible Belt of a few generations ago. All his characters are brought to life…The broken, inhibited friendship between a black and a white man is understated but fully realized. The description of a Texas twister comes out of direct observation, as does the whole book.”–James Purdy

Praise for Square Dance

First-novelist Hines frames the book with excitingly written elements, especially two sequences of burial: Beecham’s trash interment at the start of the novel; Homer’s in a vividly described tornado after Gemma returns. An early-on scene of Gemma driving is both funny and memorably odd: she’s seated on a washtub so that she can see over the steering wheel, with Homer actually perched out on the hood with a flashlight to guide the headlampless jalopy’s progress through the dusk. …It is everywhere finely, smartly tooled: a good introduction to a writer of talent. –Kirkus Review (Starred)

“A tense and tender story from an uncommonly gifted new writer.” –San Jose Mercury News

“An artful first novel that turns on solid, memorable characters and a well-sculpted plot.” –Newsday

A born spellbinder. Comparisons with To Kill a MockingbirdA Member of the Wedding and other Southern writing perhaps are inevitable. But Square Dance demonstrates that Alan Hines is blazing his own path into contemporary fiction.” –Dallas Morning News

“Hines writes lovingly and convincingly about rural Texas, creating a strong sense of place and some wonderfully complex characters.”–Publishers Weekly

Square Dance is far removed from the kind of strange humour we have come to associate with the South.  …There is a sense of authorial freedom here, an awareness of a literary heritance that is no longer stifling. Little is predictable: surely a sign of good health.” –Times Literary Supplement

“A finely crafted work that proves Hines knows his south as well as Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner and Harper Lee know theirs.” –Cedar Rapids Gazette

“A carefully wrought book, with firmly drawn characters and a richly realized sense of time and place that recall both setting and themes of McCullers’ A Member of the Wedding and Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.”  –ALA Booklist

“A witty and mordant picture of life.” –Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A fine character drama…What Mr. Hines has accomplished is a marvelous mood piece centered around Gemma’s extraordinary coming of age. His tornado-prone Texas landscapes echo the violence of emotions that erupt without warning.” –Kansas City Star

“Absorbing… You will feel everything Alan Hines meant for you to feel when he wrote this excellent novel…He writes with a feel for the state’s culture and landscape that’s bound to make Larry McMurtry fans sit up and take notice.” –Wichita Falls Times

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