Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My take on: A Far Piece to Canaan

Sam Halpern is more than that cantankerous old man quoted in his son's book Sh*t My Dad Says. Sam Halpern is a really good writer. Inspired by his own childhood in Kentucky, A Far Piece to Canaan is a story of friendship and one man's attempt to reconcile with his past.

Retired professor Samuel Zelinsky is a man in transition. His wife Nora has died of cancer. But before her death Samuel promised her he would return to his childhood home. The book alternates between the past and present, which in this case takes some getting used to. Samuel, the child of sharecroppers, came of age in 1945 rural Kentucky. His language back then is extremely different from the man he is now. If you're not used to reading slang, like me, it can take some time to get into the narrative. But once I did, I was completely absorbed in the story.

Growing up, Samuel developed a deep friendship with Fred Mulligan. Their characters reminded me of the phrase, "boys will be boys." They have fun living and working on the farm. They also go to places where they shouldn't and they see things that they shouldn't. In their minds, loyalty is more important than ratting out a friend. That sounds like teenagers everywhere. They act first and think about the consequences later. But when one of their lives is put in danger, they have to tell the truth.

I know other bloggers have said what I'm about to say, but it's worth repeating. This immediately reminded me of the movie Stand By Me, which is based on Stephen King's The Body. Stand By Me is one of those movies I can watch over and over, and A Far Piece of Canaan falls into that same category. I could read this again and again. This book reminds you of the power of friendship and how it can shape your entire life.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours


  1. I love southern fiction and "A Far Piece to Canaan" is one of the best novels I've read in years. It rings true to southern culture and to human nature. A delightful and emotionally striking read.

  2. Stand By Me is a fantastic movie - now I REALLY want to read this book!

    Thank for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  3. Thanks so much. I'm shocked that this is his first book. Hopefully, he's got some more stories in him.