Delphic Oracle, U.S.A.
During the 1920s, one of the most adventurous and consuming decades of the past century, when personal freedom and affairs were becoming commonplace, a modest love story unfolds in the western prairies of Nebraska. Maggie Westinghouse is a woman of her time, she isn’t afraid to express herself and seek out her inherent vices. The kind of person that would begin a highly charged and passionate affair with July Pennybaker, a wandering con man and big fish in this sleepy town. They are the kind of wild characters that should be able to run this small quiet community, fueling its gossip, and effortlessly taking its money.
Yet Maggie and July are not your typical wayward figures, and Delphic Oracle, Nebraska is not your typical small, quiet town. There is something tragic, mystical, and oddly poetic about this community and its history. The mysterious remains of a skeleton are uncovered in a vacated lot, a large Greek chorus keeps things interesting and decidedly colorful, and a deeply engaging tale of Americana comes to life on the page.
Delphic Oracle, U.S.A. by Steven Mayfield is one of those books that seems to have all the trappings and virtues that lovers of American literature have come to love. The narrative tone is compelling, the characters are all fully formed with none of the usual tropes and plot devices that have crippled other works of fiction. Mayfield’s writing is never indulging in unnecessary dead ends or padding. His prose is workmanlike in its effectiveness and charming in its visuals.
Not since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil have I read about such a unique supporting cast of characters, humor that made me laugh out loud in moments, or a community be so masterfully created before my eyes. Somehow, Mayfield has managed to capture and preserve a piece of the American identity and spirit in this tale.
As any reader of modern fiction can attest, every time you crack a new book open, it’s a coin toss. There is always a quiet bargain taking place with the author, a promise that the reader will be swept away into this new world, and a hope that the craftsman can deliver. Each time when it happens, it’s a privilege, a joy to be consumed by wonderful words and concepts. For this reviewer, Steven Mayfield and his exceptional new book have definitely delivered.
|Regal House Publishing
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