I love discovering new writers. Well all right, Athol Dickson is not a new writer to anyone but me. But this is my blog. He’s new.

When I listened to the audio of River Rising, I was blown away by the story about the small town of Pilotville, Louisiana, a haven of equality in the deep South of 1927, and about the miracle man who exposes and transcends Pilotville’s shameful secret. I thought, What a beautiful book. Wonder what else he’s written.

I went for another audiobook, because I had deadlines, and my sitting down time was largely taken up with edits and such. I needed something I could listen to when I wasn’t sitting down.

Which meant my next listen would be The Cure, the only other Dickson novel that had been recorded. 

Like River Rising, it was both elegant with spare writing, and rich with an artist’s use of language. It had an interesting plot line, about the town of Dublin, Maine where a cure for alcoholism had been found, and about the questions and intrigues surrounding that discovery.

I had questions of my own. Having had some experience, growing up among the people of Alcoholics Anonymous, I took special interest in the direction the story took. Would alcoholics really flock to such a cure, when so much of their addiction is characterized by denial? Would an out and out cure be the only or even the best solution? I’d known enough recovering alcoholics to observe that the struggle builds into people a kind of gentle strength. Would that strength be lost to an easy cure? (Then again, could we spare that strength to save the lives of those who never do recover?)

Even with his fine writing, Dickson would have a hard time winning me over to this story.

But he managed to do just that, with an ending that first distressed, then surprised me, and at last left me satisfied and renewed.

I’ll leave it at that, because I don’t want to spoil the experience for you. But read or listen to River Rising. And when you’re finished, go get The Cure. Both are wonderful. And by the way, both audios are extremely well narrated.

Now I can hardly wait to read his Winter Haven.