By: Sterling Watson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: 02/04/2004
My Rating: TBR
Sent to live in the humidity of rural Florida with his grandparents and his sixteen-year-old Aunt Delia for the summer, twelve-year-old Travis becomes absorbed in the closed ways of small-town life. Captivated by Delia, Travis watches her attempt to find a place for herself in the socially stunted, gossip-driven town.
Delia's secrets go beyond what Travis can understand, but he believes that he alone can save her--a belief that not only forces him to grow up fast, but one that builds to a dangerous and disturbing climax. In trying to free Delia from her past, Travis leads her into a shocking present and a most uncertain future.
In a work at once honest, chilling and compulsively addictive, author Sterling Watson has created a time and place where rock 'n' roll hums from AM radios, steam rises from a secluded riverbed and violent summer storms threaten the peace of silent nights. Watson's characters are brought vividly to life through Travis's touching, powerful and intensely personal voice. A dark and evocative coming of age tale, Sweet Dream Baby begins steeped in innocence and ends in a dramatically different place.
I can't remember a book that sneaked up and grabbed me the way Sweet Dream Baby did. It's a real shocker by a very good writer."
"Sterling Watson's Sweet Dream Baby is one of the finest novels I've read in years, an incandescent blend of gothic noir, Faulknerian dreamscape and bittersweet coming-of-age story. Months after reading it, it haunts me still."
"Sterling Watson's Sweet Dream Baby brings us the words and music, the tastes and smells of that special time—as well as its heartache and secret shame. I was utterly absorbed in these fierce pages."
—Fred Chappell, author of Look Back All the Green Valley
"Sweet Dream Baby is a beautiful book. Sterling Watson is surehanded and telling in a story that is as elegiac as it is gripping."
—Michael Connelly, author of Chasing the Dime
"Some delicious page-turning."
A Book Sense 76 Top 10 Selection
Named to Top Ten Crime Books of 2002, Toronto Globe and Mail
"Watson proves himself a first-rate storyteller."
"A comprehensive work of art that is as thought-provoking as it is disturbing."
About the Author
Sterling Watson is The Peter Meinke Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Eckerd College. He and Dennis Lehane are Co-directors of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise.
Watson is the author of six novels: Weep No More My Brother, The Calling, Blind Tongues, Deadly Sweet, Sweet Dream Baby and Fighting in the Shade.
Watson is the recipient of three Florida Fine Arts Council Awards for fiction writing. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review. His main professional interests are fiction, play and screenwriting, American and British and European short and long fiction, and the theatre. He served for five years as the fiction editor of The Florida Quarterly, and taught secondary English and later fiction writing at Raiford Prison. READ MORE
Follow up story of Travis NIGHT LETTER
A taut thriller set in Florida's desolate panhandle, part coming-of-age story, all hard-boiled noir.
Eighteen-year-old Travis Hollister is always the stranger who comes to town.
As a twelve-year-old escaping a disordered and unhappy home and parents who loved hard but couldn't make it work, Travis left the Midwest to spend a summer with his grandparents in the Deep South. There he met Delia, the love of his life, who, tragically, was beyond his reach for two reasons—she was his aunt and she was sixteen years old. That summer made Travis guilty of crimes discovered and undiscovered. For his public wrongs, he did time, six years in a Nebraska reform school. For his undiscovered wrongs, he suffers mightily and wants desperately to be shriven. Can he achieve redemption or is he bound for the hell on earth he can imagine all too well?
Driven by his need to rejoin the human community, he becomes the stranger who arrives in Panama City, Florida, searching for Delia, the aunt who was the idol of his twelve-year-old passion. Who is she now? What have the years done to her? Will she welcome the return of Travis or fear it? What will she do about the return of the stranger she once held to her teenage heart.
Jean Paul Sartre said, "Hell is other people." In the course of this story, Travis learns that other people can also be salvation. Amid a cast of characters struggling with their own needs, desires, tragedies, and, yes, crimes, Travis finds violence, hatred, vengeance, and, in greater measure, friendship, honor, loyalty, and at least a glimpse of the road to redemption.