cover image Work like Any Other

Work like Any Other

Virginia Reeves. Scribner, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5011-1249-2

In Reeves's thoughtful, absorbing debut set in 1920s Alabama, Roscoe leaves his dream job as an electrician with Alabama Power to move with his wife, Marie, and son to the farm where Marie grew up. Roscoe, unhappy and unaccustomed to farm work, decides to tap the state's power lines and bring electricity into the farm. He and the hired hand, Wilson, work for a year bringing Roscoe's dream to fruition, and the farm enjoys increased prosperity with its newly electric thresher. But disaster strikes when a man from the power company is electrocuted; Roscoe and Wilson are arrested. Roscoe is sentenced to 20 years for larceny and manslaughter. During his time in prison, he works in the dairy, the library, and finally with the dogs to track escaped prisoners. Roscoe struggles to come to terms with his life and worries about what happened to Wilson and Marie (who hasn't made contact with him since the arrest). Alternating between the third-person and Roscoe's first-person point of view and shifting the narrative back and forth in time%E2%80%94from Roscoe's childhood, through his life with Marie, to the daily work of the prison%E2%80%94Reeves depicts the layers of loss that Roscoe must confront while inside. In this engrossing, vividly drawn debut, Reeves delivers a dazzlingly authentic portrait of a restless, remorseful mind. Agent: Peter Strauss, Rogers, Coleridge and White Literary Agency. (Mar.)