God Wore Denim

September 10, 2020|
God Wore Denim by Basil Rosa
$5.25
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Octogenarian, widower and Vietnam veteran James Robert Bradner, known to friends as JB, narrates this elegiac novel from his room in a retirement home. His focus is centered on one harvest season on a family farm in Macon County, North Carolina. Originally from Danville, Virginia, a history buff and long-time recovering alcoholic, JB is married to Bonnie, also a recovering alcoholic and a dental hygienist born and raised in the town of Franklin, where they lived together for over three decades, and where the family farm that JB worked on for 25 years was once located. This farm was owned and run by Rod and Thorne Shepherd. Rod is married to Bev, who is one of Bonnie’s closest friends. Thorne is a bachelor. Both men are veterans of the second world war.

There were two things that made this one harvest season special for JB. First, it was the presence of an outsider, 13-year-old Junior, who just showed up one day to sleep on a cot in the basement of Rod Shepherd’s house, sharing a room with Rod’s son, Duke Wayne. Second, it was the year of the Shepherd’s most lucrative burley tobacco crop. JB narrates in detail the day to day life and challenges of working in a crew as a field hand, supporting a way of life that in many ways has all but vanished in the United States.

JB recounts in detail the lessons that Junior learns from him, but that Junior also teaches him. He comes to understand that it is never to late to learn or to reinvent one’s self. He details the personalities of Rod Shepherd’s son, Duke Wayne, Rod himself the patriarch of the farm, so to speak, and his brother Thorne. There are the hands such as Earl Cabe, and Lee Locust. There is Bev, Rod’s wife, a churchgoer, a dedicated farm wife, taking care of these men and ultimately explaining to them all why Junior has come and what his relationship is to her family.

The Shepherd brothers raise not only tobacco but beef cattle, hay, soybeans, okra, potatoes and all sorts of garden vegetables. JB sees, day by day, that Junior really wants to learn. The boy asks many questions. Along with Thorne, a lifelong bachelor, Junior bonds with JB. In time, the men will learn Bev’s secret, that the boy came to the farm because his mother is addicted to crack cocaine and in rehab, and his step-father has been, for years, abusing him.

As Junior bonds with the men, asking them all sorts of questions about farming, animal husbandry, the region and its history, it becomes clear that he’s a boy seeking guidance. Each of them, as adults, have by chance been forced to provide it, whether they like it or not.

Duke Wayne is also seeking a better understanding with his father, Rod. The two have fought for years, Duke Wayne having moved out of state and only returning to the farm annually to help with the fall harvest. A friendship and a fraternal dynamic also develops between Junior and Duke Wayne. JB relates how the different men find, in their various ways, a father figure within and without, fatefully and intimately in such an usual and quite beautiful pastoral setting.

Title:God Wore DenimFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:September 10, 2020Publisher:John Michael FlynnLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0463026918

ISBN - 13:9780463026915

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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