The Able McLaughlinsJuly 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Challenges, Fiction | 8 Comments
All right, I’ve finally moved past my stumbling block in reading through the Pulitzers.
The Able McLaughlins, by Margaret Wilson, is perhaps one of the more obscure winners on the list. It was difficult to track down – none of the library systems in my area carried it, and it only seemed to be available for electronic purchase through a single source. Finally I broke down and paid $20 for this paperback on Amazon. Then I had it sitting on my shelf, I’d read the first 8 pages or so, and I felt this reluctance to pick it up and finish it. I’m glad I did, though.
The Able McLaughlins holds its own against the other early Pulitzers. I’m surprised to be able to say that I enjoyed it more than One of Ours, though I am a big Cather fan. There is nothing about this book that would seem to prevent its being more widely read. The core conflict would translate well to a Jodi Picoult story, though in more of a Little House on the Prairie setting and with a little less Movie of the Week-style drama. There is something transporting about the pastoral atmosphere of these early works.
The thread continues where it began with His Family. The early Pulitzers are still focusing on traditional family values and moral uplift. It can be difficult at times to read something lacking our modern sensibility for race and gender equality. Yet there is still an element of wholesomeness in this lost world of churchgoing farmers, something we don’t tend to see often. It’s refreshing to encounter it minus the soft lighting and the violins – old-fashioned, decent people encountering various crises in a real human manner.