Reconciliation with the past is at the heart of the novel: reconciliation that comes slowly and with difficulty for my characters. And even then accommodation comes only fleetingly. The irony of the story is that the only character free of this struggle is an octoroon slave. She’s the only one, as Shakespeare’s sonnet says, who is lord and owner of her face. In two parallel narratives time is carried forward in a small chest faced with an archetypal circular design and the date 1810. Its dark contents resonate across the years from the Georgia frontier to a strange diner in small town Maine in 1967. In the chest are ordinary articles that testify to unspeakable events from the past: events that refuse to resign their hold on the present.
The book also features an excellent introduction by Melissa Reddish that outlines the mythological elements in the novel. She shows how these elements serve to tie the two parallel stories together. Melissa is a professor of English and director of the Honors Program at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, MD. Her latest book is My Father is an Angry Storm Cloud.
I also thought you might be interested in what some readers of the manuscript said:
Harold Wilson’s A Taste of Salt is a haunting tale of how the past, though over and gone, can still surprise and move us in the present. It is related in a beautifully crafted narrative arc that draws the reader in and never lets go.
Harold Wilson’s novel is a moving tale of intertwined lives that captures the past as it meets the present in the choices his characters make. Reaching back in time to the Deep South in North Georgia, the harshness of that slave culture releases an eruption of violence and revenge that is carried forward in a small decorated box of relics to impact the lives of characters undertaking their own search in the late 1960’s. As Wilson’s excellent story unfolds, the reader is reminded that every decision represents a collision between the past and the present.
Harold Wilson is a skilled short story artist who now brings that talent to his second novel, A Taste of Salt. Set first in the woods of Maine in 1967, the story slides into frontier Georgia where slavery is the only way of life. There are no choices. The story moves through the South and subtle connections surface, bringing us back to Maine and family awareness. Wilson’s command of the language engages us as we travel through the lives of his characters and experience their pain. This is a book that demands a place on our bookshelves. It is not to be missed.
Please read the book, and don’t forget to rate it on Amazon and to write a short review.