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Those Who Favor Fire: A Novel Hardcover – January 26, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In picturesque, present-day Pennsylvania, the former coal-mining town of Belle Haven harbors a hidden danger: lethal fires, ignited by a burning dump, simmer below ground. Despite this hazard, residents refuse to abandon their homes, relying instead on pet canaries to detect the noxious fumes that signal impending eruptions. Enter an unpopular government agent named Mendelson, who offers to buy them out. The protagonists are young lovers: bright, resourceful Rachel Hearn, whose parents' sudden death prompts her return home from college, and Joe, a mysterious drifter who seeks solace among the town's hapless inhabitants. He's really Christopher "Kit" Barrows, Yale dropout and reluctant heir, fleeing a nasty, duplicitous father who has been abusing Kit's twin sister since she was a preadolescent. As the peril escalates?steam hisses through potholes; wells heat to boiling; animals, houses and people are sucked into an underground inferno?the stubborn townspeople, led by Rachel, still deny that Belle Haven is beyond salvation. Will Rachel relent and move to safety in the nearby community that Joe has built for her and the others? Suspense mounts as the story moves to its dramatic conclusion. First-time novelist Wolk has conceived an engrossing plot and peopled it with appealing characters. In this cautionary tale, folk elements and environmental caveats combine with a subtle yet unrelenting sense of horror to produce a fiction reminiscent of the best of Shirley Jackson. (Feb.) FYI: Wolk, formerly senior editor for Nelson Canada, was a contributing editor for Owl, an award-winning children's magazine.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Outwardly the very model of small-town America, Belle Haven is literally sitting on top of ruin. For more than ten years a fire has raged underground throughout the area, defeating all attempts to seal it off. Burning its way through old mine shafts, manifesting itself in ominous, sometimes lethal ways, it moves inexorably closer to the population of Belle Haven. Yet the independent, eccentric residents resist leaving, led by the late-blooming young rebel, Rachel, who is back in her hometown following the sudden deaths of her parents. A voice of reason is Joe, a mysterious twentysomething newcomer on the run from a terrible past, who has fallen in love with both Belle Haven and Rachel. Though some episodic stretches and windy exposition slow the momentum, the tensions of romance, looming disaster, and rocky relationships among a raft of believable characters keep the often preposterous but entertaining plot moving along to a satisfying conclusion. This first novel is a good choice for summer beach reading and appropriate for most popular collections.?Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Alexandria, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House; 1st edition (January 26, 1999)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 374 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0679448497
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0679448495
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.6 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 1.25 x 9.75 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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People asked when I became a writer. My answer: October 28, 1959. The day I was born. People ask how long it took me to write Wolf Hollow or Beyond the Bright Sea. I say: my whole life. My work is a result of everything I’ve ever experienced. The same is true of my visual art and poetry. Art may be triggered by a moment of inspiration or epiphany, but it arises from a lifetime of observations, ideas, imagination, and skills honed by practice, practice, and more practice.

I’ve had quite a few jobs in my life, all of which involved writing and all of which made me a better writer.

After graduating from Brown University with a degree in English literature, I worked at the St. Paul American Indian Center, writing a book on how best to assist battered women in the Native American community. I then worked as a senior editor with an educational publisher in Toronto before starting a family and a business as a freelance writer and editor in 1988. In 1999, Random House published my first novel, Those Who Favor Fire. In 2000, I became a full-time, certified English teacher at Sturgis Charter School in Hyannis, working there for four years before leaving to become Assistant Director at the Cape Cod Writers Center and to write my second novel, Forgiving Billy, which was twice nominated for the Pushcart Editor’s Book Award and which won the 2006 Hackney Literary Award. I became Associate Director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in 2007, which was when I became increasingly involved in creating visual art, eventually receiving invitations to participate in various exhibits and to show my work at the Larkin Gallery in Provincetown and the Post Office Gallery in North Truro. In 2016, Dutton published my novel Wolf Hollow, which I had written for a general audience but which is known primarily as a book for young readers (“ages 10 and up”). It was named a 2016 New England Book Award winner, a 2017 Newbery Honor Book, and a 2017 Jane Addams Honor Book and was shortlisted for the 2017 New York Historical Society Children’s Book Prize, the 2017 Waterstones Book Prize, the 2017 Carnegie Medal, and other awards. In May 2017, Dutton published Beyond the Bright Sea, also for ages 10 and up.

I come from a long line of farmers and love the natural world, which enabled me to write Wolf Hollow, which is about a girl named Annabelle coming of age on a small farm in 1943. Likewise, the decades I’ve spent near the ocean inspired my new book, about a girl growing up on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Cape Cod, where I live.

I have a wonderful time visiting with children and other readers to talk about my work and to answer their questions. They are all unfailingly smart, perceptive, and supportive.

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