An astonishing novel that seizes the heart, and sets age-old conflicts against modern life. All the Living has the timeless quality of a parable, evoking a time and place with such beauty and power that it is unforgettable.
It’s a hot, dry summer and a young woman travels to Kentucky with her lover, Orren, to the isolated tobacco farm he has inherited after his family dies in a terrible accident. As he works through the drought, Aloma struggles to find her way in a combative, erotically charged relationship with this taciturn man. Her growing friendship with a local charismatic preacher further complicates her sense of lonely dissatisfaction as she grapples with the eternal question of whether it is better to fight for freedom or submit to desire.
At first she could see his figure only as a dark shape and the sun firing on the watch on his right arm as he turned the wheel. Then when he was finally before her, braking and leaning in slightly under the shade of the visor to pull the keys from the ignition, she found the broad contours of his face and the color of his skin, much browner than the last time she had seen him, the day after the funeral three weeks ago when he came down to the school and sat beside her and set a question to her. He said, You’ll come up? And she said, Yes, yes. And it don’t matter if it’s all out of order like it is? And she shook her head and took his blanched face in her hands and kissed him, and that had struck her later as an odd reversal, he usually being the one to reach out and pull her to him.
From the Hardcover edition.