Executive Times






2008 Book Reviews


The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton








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Clyde Edgerton’s new novel, The Bible Salesman, presents richly developed characters and vivid descriptions of the South after World War II. With both religion and sex, how can a reader go wrong? Here’s an excerpt, pp. 42-44:


"Henry," said Aunt Dorie, "go get me the scissors off the table in the kitchen."

Henry left, and Dorie said to the Bible salesman, "I'm sorry, we can't afford another Bible. My husband's checking some rabbit boxes, and I just realized he's due back, and he shouldn't know right yet that I'm buying one for Henry even. It's part cigar money I'm using."

"Oh, yes, Mrs. Sorrell. Of course. Let me just get these things together. And I appreciate those names you gave me. May God bless you and all the people you love." He stood, stuck out his hand, bowed a little bow, sort of a neck stretch.

Henry was back with the scissors.

"You be good, son," said the man. "Take care of that Bi­ble. It's a fine one."

As soon as the door closed, Aunt Dorie said, "Look at those pages." She reached over and thumbed a page. "It's In­dia paper, and you can almost see through it."

This Bible felt almost as thin as a New Testament. It was like a little fire truck not a big clumsy fire truck. It was small and swift and would maybe be easy to understand be­cause it was thin, and it felt good in his hands. "Was he a preacher?" asked Henry.

"He was a Bible salesman. Spreading the Gospel that way."

"Why did you need the scissors?"

"Oh, I just need to cut something in a minute."

Henry walked to the front window, saw the man open his car door and place his valise inside, then look over the top of his car down toward Mrs. Albright's house, knock a ciga­rette up out of a pack, pick it out with his lips, put the pack away, and then light the cigarette with a match cupped in his hands. He looked back at Aunt Dorie's front door before he got in the car. He seemed sad.

He backed out of the driveway, turned, and headed down the hill. He slowed and turned into Mrs. Albright's driveway. Henry wondered about Mrs. Albright's husband. He got killed in a war about the Spanish something. He was a hero and left behind a widow and two children. Uncle Jack said Mrs. Albright's daughter was unhappy because she didn't have anything wrong with her, so she left home. Aunt Dorie said you were supposed to take care of orphans and widows. Widows were not the same as black widows. Black widows ate their husbands, Uncle Jack said.

Dorie walked to the window, stood beside Henry, and looked down toward Mrs. Albright's. "We don't want to worry Uncle Jack about buying a new Bible, so don't say anything to him about it. I'll tell him."

"Since Mrs. Albright had Yancy, does she still have him?" asked Henry.

"She had Yancy, yes," said Aunt Dorie. "What do you mean?"

"Does she have him the same way he has that ball in his neck?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like you can't throw it away."

"Well, that's right. I guess that's the way it is," said Aunt Dorie.

"But some things you have you can throw away." "That's right."

"Why do they both have the same word, 'have'?"

"I never thought about it. Come on over here and let's look at your Bible."


If anything in the excerpt catches your interest, chances are you’ll enjoy The Bible Salesman.


Steve Hopkins, October 20, 2008



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The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the November 2008 issue of Executive Times


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