Archive for February 1st, 2013

The lottery of birthright weighs heavily on novelist Eric Martin’s mind in ‘Luck’

February 1, 2013

If one were tempted to reduce Eric Martin’s 2000 novel Luck to its simplest elements, it could be described as a tale of rich boy meets and falls in love with poor girl.

But Martin isn’t about simplicity. Instead, this is a writer who loves to dive into details and nuance. He’s also a writer whose ability to put a reader into the heat of moment derives in part from his flair for exploring the varied historic and personal factors that have led to the moment.

So Luck is the story of Michael Olive, the intelligent and tightly wound scion of a successful farmer in a small Eastern North Carolina town, and Hermelinda Salmeron, the intelligent, ambitious and beautiful daughter of a Mexican migrant worker employed by the Olive family and living on their land.

But it’s also much, much more. It’s the story of the rivalry between Mike Olive and Harvey Dickerson, a lifelong schoolmate and onetime friend turned bitter rival. It’s the story of the tension between the white farmers in the rural community and the poor and often poorly educated Hispanics who do much of the hard labor of producing and harvesting crops.

It’s the story of the tension between small-town Cottesville and the outsiders Olive brings into their midst one summer, fellow Duke University students who show an unseemly interest in the migrants. And it’s also the story of the tension between Olive, his family and the community that raised him.  Read the rest of this entry »

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