[ PDF ] ✐ Wolf Whistle Author Lewis Nordan – Thomashillier.co.uk

Wolf Whistle Born And Raised In The Mississippi Delta, Novelist Lewis Nordan Was Fifteen Years Old The Summer Two White Men From The Next Town Were Tried For The Murder Of A Black Boy Who Wolf Whistled At A White Woman The Boy S Name Was Emmett Till And The Year His Murderers Were Tried And Acquitted Was In The Thirty Eight Years Since, That White Adolescent S Impressions Of What Happened In Money, Mississippi, Have Been Turned Over In Nordan S Mind And Memory In The Turning, Those Impressions Have Gathered The Odd Outgrowths And Distortions Of This Writer S Truly Wild Imagination The Outlines Of Real Events Have Been Subsumed Into Entirely New And Different Shapes The Result Is Wolf Whistle, A Novel Starring A Mississippi White Trash Girl Named Alice Who Understands In Her Heart The Meaning Of Evil Alice Is The Fourth Grade Teacher At The Arrow Catcher Elementary School And She Yearns To Teach Her Pupils Things Worth Learning She Believes The Best Way To Do It Is With Field Trips The First Trip Of The School Year Is To The Bedside Of The Fourth Grader S Terminally Burned Classmate, Glenn Gregg Glenn Got In The Way Of A Gasoline Fire He Set To Burn Up His Despicable Daddy The Final Trip Is To Be To The Courthouse Where Alice And Her Fourth Grade Class Attend The Murder Trial Of Glenn Gregg S Despicable Daddy, Solon, And His Employer, Lord Montberclair, Whose Wife S Beauty Is What Inspired A Black Teenager S Reckless Compliment Hubba, Hubba In Between Those Two Educational Forays, Nordan Takes The Reader On A Field Trip Of His Own Along The Crooked Paths Of Righteous Racism And Violence That Lead To The Courthouse Gallery Where The Reader Joins Alice And Her Fourth Graders To Witness The S American Southern Ethic At Work Soft Heart Turned Bleeding Heart, It Is Alice In Whom The Germ Of Guilt Recognition Grows, Matures, And Bears Fruit To Pass On To Future Generations Of White Southerners It Is Inside Alice S Brilliant Heart That Lewis Nordan Has Come Of Age As A Novelist


10 thoughts on “Wolf Whistle

  1. says:

    4.5 stars out of 5 The Mississippi Delta is not always dark with rain Some autumn mornings, the sun rises over Moon Lake, or Eagle, or Choctaw, or Blue, or Roebuck, all the wide, deep waters of the state, and when it does, its dawn is as rosy with promise and hope as any other Scene of the original Wolf Whistle that inspired this novel.It is sometimes hard to comprehend such racism, such hate existing in a place capable of so much beauty I would like to think that the allure of the 4.5 stars out of 5 The Mississippi Delta is not always dark with rain Some autumn mornings, the sun rises over Moon Lake, or Eagle, or Choctaw, or Blue, or Roebuck, all the wide, deep waters of the state, and when it does, its dawn is as rosy with promise and hope as any other Scene of the original Wolf Whistle that inspired this novel.It is sometimes hard to comprehend such racism, such hate existing in a place capable of so much beauty I would like to think that the allure of the natural world would dissolve the barbed wire from around the hearts of those so intent on holding onto archaic intolerance This story is set in 1955, and maybe we are now in the present day closer to realizing Dr Martin King s fervent hope I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.North Carolina and Virginia, two states that seceded from the Union, actually cast their ballets and their electoral college votes to Barack Obama Heartening for sure, but it was still disheartening for me as I travel through the red states to hear most of the jokes told about Obama still revolve around the color of his skin Words are used that hit my eardrums like the sound of a whip splitting flesh But then we can not worry about those people unfortunately, they are lost, but we have a chance with the young, agile minds of the children who have not been tainted by centuries of old prejudices Is there anythingsad than a child throwing a punch and an insult that originated from the fist and tongue of an ancestor long dead Lewis Nordan carried around the events of 1955 in his heart for the rest of his life When Emmett Till, a young black man was murdered in the Mississippi Delta, Nordan was fifteen years old Certainly fifteen is one of those pivotal years in any man s life when you are caught between seeing the man you hope to be, but are still snagged by the childish enthusiasms of a boy As he watched two white men be convicted for the murder, he couldn t shake off the fact that the reasons for killing another human being could be so insignificant As insignificant as wolf whistling at a pretty, white woman may be, this awakens every primal fear in the hearts of men who can t understand that a boy that is black or a boy that is white are simply just boys learning how to be men A white boy who wolf whistles at a pretty married woman might get a cuff to the back of the head, but a black boywellhe has to die Festering hate blossoms out of misconceived notions and are handed off from generation to generation, like a baton that keeps the holder circling around back to the past Racism is a ball of despair, rage, and self doubt that is passed from father to son It may begin as a BB in the belly of a boy, but by the time he is a man and weighed down with his own insecurities, that BB has grown to the size of a basketball, scorching his guts and putting a blaze in his eyes that sees someone else as the cause of all his problems Solon is poor white trash, but he sees himself as higher on the evolutionary ladder than a black boy like Bobo When Solon overhears the catcall that Bobo makes towards Sally Anne, wife of the local aristocratic such as it is Lord Montbeclair, he decides he is affronted and that Lord Montbeclair should know about this He also sees that Bobo has a picture of a white woman in his wallet, and he makes an epic jump in logic to believe that the picture is of Sally Anne The photo is of Hedy Lamarr, but then Solon has already shown that he sees the world slightly blurred, in soft focus, where all black men look alike and all attractive white women have the same face On the polar opposite side of the scale is Alice Conroy, the local school teacher, who is trying to make a difference in Arrow Catcher, Mississippi She is trying to expand the minds of her students so they don t feel trapped or small, so that they can make their own decisions and be a source of change Alice is trying to move a boulder uphill still she feels the stone move ever so slightly from time to time The problem of course is that she is fighting a lonely battle, and soon she will find it easier to teach somewhere else She can produce a mound of evidence to prove that racism has no true basis to continue to exist unfortunately, people insist on nursing the flames of their own prejudices She sees a drowned black child floating in a raindrop Lord Montbeclair may have some money, but his wife is too young and too pretty for him He knows he ain t worth a damn except for what the sturdiness of the walls of his ancestral home convey and the reputations of those ancestors that have preceded him give him He has some education, but whatever benefits he has from that higher learning have been drowned in the amber of alcohol It doesn t take much for Solon to convince Montbeclair that his honor has been sullied It doesn t go well.Bobo, while dying from a gunshot wound that dislocates his eye, can still see events unfoldingThrough the demon eye he saw Solon, tense behind the steering wheel, holding the truck on its true course until he reached the safety of the other side, rain still falling like pennies from heaven, dirty copper, the headlights, demon eyes themselves, laying beams like gangplanks on a pirate ship It must be disappointing for Bobo to die so ineptly, by the hands of men unworthy of the task and incapable of understanding the true significance of what they do Lewis Nordan R.I.P.Mike Sullivan has been advocating that I read Lewis Nordan for a long time He is quite possibly Nordan s greatest fan among a legion of readers who have sought out Nordan s books I was surprised to see that Mike has not written a review of this book, but then sometimes books are too dear to even attempt to review Nordan has put together a heady mix of cultural heritage, unexpected humor, andthan a drop of magic We can only hope that Alice has left enough pieces of herself in the minds of her fourth grade class to influence their futures We can only hope that men like Solon and Montbeclair are slowly becoming extinct with each passing generation What has been bred in has to be bred out If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. says:

    Lewis Nordan shows us a 1955 rural Mississippi Delta town, and how its inhabitants have been impacted by the lynching of Bobo, a 14 year old black boy from Chicago The real murder of Emmett Till, who allegedly wolf whistled or flirted with a white woman, was the inspiration for this book.The book weaves a story about the people living in Arrow Catcher, mostly poor whites and even poorer blacks There is a culture of racism, violence, and alcoholism A bit of the Southern Gothic comes through wi Lewis Nordan shows us a 1955 rural Mississippi Delta town, and how its inhabitants have been impacted by the lynching of Bobo, a 14 year old black boy from Chicago The real murder of Emmett Till, who allegedly wolf whistled or flirted with a white woman, was the inspiration for this book.The book weaves a story about the people living in Arrow Catcher, mostly poor whites and even poorer blacks There is a culture of racism, violence, and alcoholism A bit of the Southern Gothic comes through with mentions of the grotesque Satirical humor is present in the interactions between people, and a talking parrot adds some comic elements The murder itself was treated as the tragic event that it was Black men singing the blues set a sad musical tone in the first half of the book A group of ancient black buzzards, who had feasted on the corpses during the Civil War, adds to the ominous feeling Alice, a young schoolteacher, has a vision of a dead child in a raindrop.After Bobo is murdered, with a bullet knocking an eye from its socket, he watches the coverup through the dislodged eye Through the demon eye he saw Solon, tense behind the steering wheel, holding the truck on its true course until he reached the safety of the other side, rain still falling like pennies from heaven, dirty copper, the headlights, demon eyes themselves, laying beams like gangplanks on a pirate ship Alice takes her fourth grade students on a field trip to the courthouse to watch the trial of the two men arrested for the murder What will the next generation learn about justice Will the idealistic teacher be a vehicle for change Lewis Nordan tells this story with a combination of history, ethics, magical realism, humor, and just good storytelling It s a creative combination that works Information about Emmett Till was a March group read for the On the Southern Literary Trail group


  3. says:

    Horrible, haunting and hilarious, those three adjectives are not usually used together to describe a book, but Wolf Whistle is certainlly all of those, andTo say this is a fictionalized version of the death of Emmet Till in Mississippi does not come close to conveying the truth When the facts of the murder are carried around in the mind and heart of Lewis Nordan for many years and then brought forth again in a novel, the result is mind blowing The fourth grade field trips led by Miss Al Horrible, haunting and hilarious, those three adjectives are not usually used together to describe a book, but Wolf Whistle is certainlly all of those, andTo say this is a fictionalized version of the death of Emmet Till in Mississippi does not come close to conveying the truth When the facts of the murder are carried around in the mind and heart of Lewis Nordan for many years and then brought forth again in a novel, the result is mind blowing The fourth grade field trips led by Miss Alice are certainly one of a kind, the inhabitants of Arrow Catcher are made unbelievably real, and the speech patterns of the blacks and whites of the rural south are captured perfectly I may come back to this review later to add , since I just finished reading the last page and wanted to get some thoughts down while it s still fresh in my mind But I have to wonder how in the world this author managed to convey that racism has it s roots in ignorance and stupidity so clearly in just 190 pages This was an unforgettable read


  4. says:

    Nothing about this should work, nothing, but God Almighty, so help me, it does The white trash telling of Emmett Till s murder The fantastical, twisty what if of 1950 s Mississippi It s a lightning storm in the swamp It s electricity and madness and hilarity horror and the boiled down heart and soul of love and hate It s fiction, but it s fact, and it s history, and it s history and fact and the heart of the matter in the way that takes fiction to get there Larger than life Magic even whe Nothing about this should work, nothing, but God Almighty, so help me, it does The white trash telling of Emmett Till s murder The fantastical, twisty what if of 1950 s Mississippi It s a lightning storm in the swamp It s electricity and madness and hilarity horror and the boiled down heart and soul of love and hate It s fiction, but it s fact, and it s history, and it s history and fact and the heart of the matter in the way that takes fiction to get there Larger than life Magic even when you don t believe a thing such as magic exists.In my favorite review of it, the review that made me pick this book up, Jimmy says It s your own heart, idiot It s all our hearts It s Mississippi


  5. says:

    I ended up really really liking this book However, in the first part of the book I kind of lost focus and got a little bored with characters and story I m so glad I snapped out of it because it really was worth the read Funny and heartbreaking with glimpses of hope.


  6. says:

    What do you do when you come from a place that s beautiful, friendly, and magical, and evil to its core What do you do when you can t winnow the bad from the good What do you do when the place that made you is the best and worst place you can imagine You write that murdered boys are redemptive mermaids, that love roams without a rhyme or reason, and that all your dreams and hopes profit you nothing against the reality of who you are You write absurdity into tragedy You write about how much yo What do you do when you come from a place that s beautiful, friendly, and magical, and evil to its core What do you do when you can t winnow the bad from the good What do you do when the place that made you is the best and worst place you can imagine You write that murdered boys are redemptive mermaids, that love roams without a rhyme or reason, and that all your dreams and hopes profit you nothing against the reality of who you are You write absurdity into tragedy You write about how much you love the Delta, and how badly you want to leave it If you re Lewis Nordan you write books like Wolf Whistle The book is based on the murder of Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta in 1955, and event that helped increase the momentum for civil rights activism in that decade Nordan transfers that tragic event to his fictional postage stamp town of Arrow Catcher, Mississippi You have his usual fictional elements fantastical animals and O Connor like satire, and some of his sweetness and tom foolery but Wolf Whistle also has its moments of true anger.The proof is in the language If you like this on a flock of buzzards that were older than the Civil War you ll like Wolf Whistle Some of the birds on the light posts were as ancient as the historical battle itself, old, ninety, a hundred years old, a few of them, so historians and ornithologists reported, and so, as part of this same flock, those birds had actually fed on the flesh and eyes and tongues and nutritious organ meat of Confederate troops, fallen, hungry, frightened boys before they were made buzzard bait by a mini ball or cannon shot.The buzzards were named Vardaman and Bilbo and Hugh White and J.P Coleman and Ross Barnett and other names of past and future governors and senators of the sovereign state of Mississippi.Other birds on the light posts, youthful by comparison, possessed only blood memories of the ancient feast, genetic egg yolk longings for distant, unremembered culinary ecstasy and freedom from deprivation, and sat with hope in their bird hearts and nothing at all in their bird brains, for many years, decades really, a human lifetime and longer, above the homes of damaged rednecks and maniacs with pistols, on smelly light posts planted in stinking mud, whiling away all of their valuable, irretrievable daylight hours and years in the sad innocence of poultry patience during this lean century since the glorious Festival of the Dead Rebels long ago, and they were content for now with roadkill.A little historical context When Emmett Till s beaten body was pulled out of the river, still tied with barbed wire by its neck to a hundred pound gin fan, his murder was widely criticized throughout Mississippi Till had supposedly whistled at a white woman in a country store Her husband and his half brother kidnapped Till and killed him The sheriffs of Tallahatchie County where Till was murdered, and where his body was found and Leflore County where he was taken from his Uncle s house both said the body found was Till As the days passed that all changed, and white Mississippians began to complain of the bad publicity the case gained national attention , and that the actions of a few hot heads shouldn t rain judgment down on the state and its traditions The Tallahatchie sheriff soon reversed himself and said he didn t know if the body found was Till, and the boy was probably alive, hidden in comfort somewhere in his home town of Chicago To his credit, the Leflore County sheriff continued to insist that the body was Till s.The husband and half brother were tried for the murder in Tallahatchie County, but not for the kidnapping of the boy from his uncle s house, which happened in Leflore At trial the men admitted under oath that they took Till from his uncle s house But they denied they killed him The jury found them not guilty After the trial the two men were held before the grand jury in Leflore County for the kidnapping charge, which they had admitted to under oath at their trial Despite that, the Leflore County grand jury refused to charge them with the crime


  7. says:

    If I were to choose three words to describe Nordan s work, it would be haunting, hilarious, and tragic Usually such elements are a recipe for disaster, or at the very least a digressive narrative train wreck , but Nordan seamlessly weaves together elements of humor and tragedy, the grotesque and absurd with verdant beauty Wolf Whistle is a novel whose images will linger with you long after the reading has ended.Wolf Whistle is based on the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, whose life was taken becau If I were to choose three words to describe Nordan s work, it would be haunting, hilarious, and tragic Usually such elements are a recipe for disaster, or at the very least a digressive narrative train wreck , but Nordan seamlessly weaves together elements of humor and tragedy, the grotesque and absurd with verdant beauty Wolf Whistle is a novel whose images will linger with you long after the reading has ended.Wolf Whistle is based on the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, whose life was taken because he allegedly wolf whistled a white woman This event would ultimately catalyze momentum for civil rights activism in the decade Jordan sublimates this memory of the tragic event, which impacted his own childhood, into a collective meditation on the nature of Southern culture in the 1950s Set in the fictional one horse town of Arrow Cather, Mississippi, no facet of society remains unexamined Irony, satire and caricature are applied to all of his characters, except to Bobo, the murdered boy, who remains the pure and moral center of the novel It is around Bobo s murder that the complex racial and cultural relations of this novel pivot The murder reverberates through each character, no matter how major or minor Each chapter oscillates from a different character s perspective reaction to the tragedy In result, the reader is able to experience the true ethos of the era the struggle of the white working class, intense racial segregation, the failings of the justice system, and of course, the cathartic power of the Blues In an interview with the author, Nordan states that his novel is ultimately a serious story about death and grief and broken hearts but that it exists on a plane, sometimes comic, even burlesque, just askew of the real historical universe And it is in his sensuous, evocative prose that we are taken into the surreal setting of the Delta, where elements of magical realism are melded with historical fact By mythologizing this event, I believe the reader experiences the tragedy all theprofoundly Nordan will truly be remembered by this haunting and remarkable piece


  8. says:

    Wow This is truly one of the most amazing books I have ever read in my life The combination of magical realism, history, and yes, eventually some humor reminded me of City of Thieves, if it could remind me of anything And of course the trial scene briefly brings to mind To Kill a Mockingbird, only because it is a racially based crime in the South But this book is absolutely one of a kind.First of all, the writing is just out of this world The images are gorgeous and magical and very evoca Wow This is truly one of the most amazing books I have ever read in my life The combination of magical realism, history, and yes, eventually some humor reminded me of City of Thieves, if it could remind me of anything And of course the trial scene briefly brings to mind To Kill a Mockingbird, only because it is a racially based crime in the South But this book is absolutely one of a kind.First of all, the writing is just out of this world The images are gorgeous and magical and very evocative Even when the action is disturbing the rhythm of the writing is still somehow soothing as if it is seeing beyond the immediate violence into a greater,peaceful picture.Nordan tells everyone s story no matter who they are in the book He is able to see his characters as all equally human which brings me to the most wonderful thing about this book the writing style itself that is, the constant reminders that we are all human together, all the same, all one is the only way to stop the violence and racism he describes in the book When one is honestly present to the fact that we are all equally human, can one commit such acts of violence I really don t know, but I think not The blurb about this book mentions hilarity personally, I don t think so There is some humor, but it is the humor that is an alternative to fear and grief and the absurd humor in acknowledging that we humans manage to be ridiculous, heartbreaking, and brutal all at once By the way, my book cover was a little less perky It looked like this


  9. says:

    Sometimes, I am reminded of my own unawareness Guess what I am not the only person in the worldno literally sometimes I have to be reminded about the world not revolving around me Did you know that other people actually live here, with me Breathing the same air Making the same assumptions Living the same life On Earth With me And they have an opinion about the horrid events that take place, and sometimeson rare occasionstheir opinions may or may not influence my empathy levels Sometimes, I am reminded of my own unawareness Guess what I am not the only person in the worldno literally sometimes I have to be reminded about the world not revolving around me Did you know that other people actually live here, with me Breathing the same air Making the same assumptions Living the same life On Earth With me And they have an opinion about the horrid events that take place, and sometimeson rare occasionstheir opinions may or may not influence my empathy levelsand this guyLewis something or another, does a great job of letting me if only for a moment, experience a very Black event through the eyes of a Caucasian community Realizing that, poverty doesn t fall too far from the tree.Just for a second, a brief second of forever s time, I am able to understand how things on the surface often get dirty and need to be polished downreal goodthe kind of polishing only Big Momma can manage, and just when you think the polishing is as good as it can get, and Madea has started sweating through her head scarf, you find a scuff markthe size of a tip of an ink pen, and in this dusty, dirty, vague scuff mark you might find a small speck of insanity And that insanity, for some, bares a resemblance of a forgotten historical story Story or reality Iown know ButFor Emmitt Till to still remain so forgotten and under exploited baffles me, but my perplexion just like my complexion should not matterhis death impacted America, regardless of race, gender or humanitythis manNo, this childNO This martyr Mattered And, this writer showcased the revolution, from the other side


  10. says:

    Whew What a book I ve never read anything like this before Loosely based on the lynching of 14 year old Emmet Till in 1955 for whistling at a white woman , Nordan s novel is as far away from a crime novel as you can get A grim and bizarre comedy of callous, drunk, and stupid people, the telling of this tale took me to new destinations in odd but often hilarious ways of telling a story From the fourth grade teacher who takes her students on a field trip to a mortuary to watch an embalming, Whew What a book I ve never read anything like this before Loosely based on the lynching of 14 year old Emmet Till in 1955 for whistling at a white woman , Nordan s novel is as far away from a crime novel as you can get A grim and bizarre comedy of callous, drunk, and stupid people, the telling of this tale took me to new destinations in odd but often hilarious ways of telling a story From the fourth grade teacher who takes her students on a field trip to a mortuary to watch an embalming, to the drunk, befuddled, savvy, vicious, and remorseful Gregg who decides to murder his family except for his eldest daughter lest she miss her wedding , the residents of Arrow Catcher, Mississippi abound in eccentric, twisted, and macabre individuals most of them drunk most of the time.The hard realities of racial segregation and deep poverty and ignorance keep one foot of the novel in reality The murder of fourteen year old Bobo is just barely made tragic It s striking and believable, in spite of a certain bizarre style of narrative.Overall the narrative holds the reader tightly to itself, but there were a couple rare places where a savvy editor could have lopped off an entire page and spared the reader from an authorial excess.There s no mystery here you know who commits the crime There s no forensic story at all This is a novel of who did it and what they were thinking and how the different residents of the small community were effected by the impact of the tragedy


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