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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pelican Road: Novel

Pelican Road: Novel
By Howard Bahr
Macadam Cage: May 9, 2008

Howard Bahr is a train man.  Pelican Road, Howard’s first non-Civil War
fiction, is a literary train novel.  This is the only serious railroad
fiction that I know of.

Pelican Road is the train route from Meridian, MS to New Orleans.  Set
around 1940, Howard captures the personalities; the way folks lived; their
meanness and their cares; their moments of good fortune and their
unfortunate times.

Through the eyes of the people in this era, we learn about the ways of the
railroad:  the trains themselves and their workings; train jobs and their
responsibilities; the real-life characteristics of railroad men; and
insight into the joys and hardships of the railroad life.

I especially like the way Howard worked the WWI (“Doughboy War“) into this
novel.  Dealing with flashbacks gives Howard’s Civil War fiction fans just
enough.  Pelican Road extends Howard’s fiction into a new, broader era
offering insight into the 2nd generation, post-Civil War life.

My favorite aspect of this fine novel laid in Howard’s ability to relate
the sheer power and force of the train itself and the way the machine is
revered in language.

There is no doubt, in his heart, Howard is truly a railroad man.