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The Loved and the Unloved

By Thomas Hal Phillips

260 pp.

1578060567 (9781578060566)
Paper $22.00S

Paper, $22.00

An unforgettable novel in which violence is tempered by compassion and love

"Yes, I should have hated the Acrofts. That was one side of it. They had thick rugs and soft chairs and bright lights and good clothes and lots of food and big roaring fires. They walked across the earth in a different way, because they owned it--part of it--while not a handful belonged to me. And the other side: they still asked me to sit at their table; they furnished us month after month, though we owed five hundred and forty-four dollars two years from the day we moved there."

Few writers have surpassed Thomas Hal Phillips in capturing the austere dignity of plain people in the rural South. Admiring readers and critics have acclaimed his rare ability to depict tenderness and love even when human life is reduced to utter poverty.

In this compelling book, Phillips's last published novel, we are intrigued by a compassionate executioner whose macabre duty with a portable electric chair is thwarted by his overwhelming love for the unloved.

First published in 1955 by Harper & Brothers, this hauntingly authentic novel explores the complex and mercurial nature of human emotions. Classically stark like Phillips's other novels, this is a tragic story told by Max Harper, the son of a Mississippi sharecropper. He lives with his parents and brother on land owned by a benevolent planter named Acroft. It seems a great wrong for a boy so warm and intelligent to be crushed in the pit of poverty. Despite the unbridled contempt Acroft's bullying son Vance inflicts on the Harper family, the young Max remains sensitive and restrained. However, Vance's scorn for Max fuels an antagonism that leads to a tragic and violent death.

After publishing The Loved and the Unloved, Phillips turned toward Hollywood and writing for the screen. As a rising southern star in the years following World War II, he was celebrated and watched. For his singular talent a reviewer for the New York Herald Tribune said Phillips was "a keener, more compassionate observer of life than a whole cottonfield full of younger southern novelists."

Thomas Hal Phillips is the author of five novels (The Loved and the Unloved, The Bitterweed Path, The Golden Lie, Search for a Hero, and Kangaroo Hollow). He received the O. Henry Award and two Guggenheims. He has been a screenwriter and script editor for such movies as Nashville, Thieves Like Us, The Brain Machine, Ode to Billy Joe, and Tarzan's Fight for Life. He lives in Corinth, Mississippi.

260 pp.