East of Denver
Gregory Hill
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Buy *East of Denver* by Gregory Hill online

East of Denver
Gregory Hill
272 pages
June 2013
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Hill's debut follows Stacey "Shakespeare" Williams on his return home to tend to an ailing father, the family farm and a dead cat. The notion of returning home was most famously written about by Thomas Wolfe, but the literary conceit works beautifully beneath this author's fingers. It is not so much a return to but a retreat from a sterile and no-win life in Denver.

The writing here is clean and unfiltered. Hill shifts effortlessly between pages filled with the dark and desperate moments between a son and his dementia-ridden father to scenes rife with humor and the shining light of possibilities. In the first paragraph on page one, Hill combines that darkness and light:

I was driving from Denver to the farm with a dead cat in the back seat of my car. She was a stray I used to feed of my back step. She slept outside. She walked in the rain. Once, after a blizzard, she spent a month trapped in the sewers, where she survived by eating baby raccoons. When the snow melted, she crawled out of the storm drain, mangy and wet with a chunk of skin missing from her left side. She rubbed against my shin and got pus on my britches. She was tough. She got better. I don't mind cats but I hate cat-lovers. I loved this cat.
There is pathos. Sadness. Dark glimmers of hope. The entire book reveals this balance and shift and makes it absolutely worthwhile to pick up. Hill has a bright future.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2014

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