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10 thoughts on “All the Living

  1. Hugh Hugh says:

    This has been chosen as a February group read for the 21st Century Literature group and I started it early This is a very impressive debut novel poignant and full of wonderfully atmospheric and poetic descriptions that really bring its remote Kentucky tobacco farm setting to life To a British eyeear much of the language feels uite alien there is plenty of local slang and Morgan does seem to like creative usages of nouns and adjectives as verbs I don't want to say too much now because I don't want to preempt the discussion

  2. Viv JM Viv JM says:

    This book really got under my skin and I'm finding it hard to pinpoint exactly why The way Morgan uses language is lyrical and arresting and the sense of place is exuisite The book explores themes of love belonging grief and compromise and the overall feeling it has left me with is a sort of wistful melancholy I feel like I need to go back and read it all over again

  3. Tara Tara says:

    This is the highest compliment I can pay to a book I miss it I finished it a a week ago but didn't have time to review till now If Morgan had written a book thousands of pages long I would read every oneThis book exemplifies uiet that term all lit writers hate to hear when they submit to agents and editors as it almost always comes with a rejection I've never read a uieter novel than this one Really only three characters One setting Nothing much happens It's all the internal wrestling of the orphaned Aloma the main character and her intense observations of the farmland and the living Morgan can stretch a moment or a simple gesture to fill several pagesOutside of a handful of times when I felt she may have overedited and used the thesaurus too much I devoured every carefully worked phrase sentence scene I've never enjoyed a writer's prose as much as I enjoyed Morgan's That this is a first novel is extraordinary That it was written in 14 days one of those mystical happenings only explained by some spiritual muse I don't envy her having to follow this with a second bookI plan to keep this and read it again and again It's not easy to follow a character who can't trust the world to make her happy for than a minute at time and generally less than that It's not easy to be in the mind of a character who wonders if it's her partner who makes her unhappy or herself someone who isn't entirely likeable But the language and the power of Morgan's deep insights into human behavior made it worth this reader's while Highly recommended to readers who enjoy poetic prose social psychology and rural settings

  4. Paltia Paltia says:

    The eternal uandaries of the human condition rarely change This story is no exception There is Alona Orphaned at so young an age she has no memories of her parents Moved to an overcrowded relative’s home she is sent to live at a girl’s school Here she discovers something that graces her with a sense of achievement as well as an outlet for her emotions She learns to play the piano It gets her juices flowing and becomes the driving force of her life leading her to those inevitable twists of fate that life is made up of What can a girl who never knew nurturing from others who never attached know of giving and receiving love? Don’t fault her for what she doesn’t understand She has no template no experience no models As the story unfolds she becomes involved with two men Orren and BellIt’s in these relationships that she carelessly tests and pushes the men’s boundaries Her fear of being stuck in a grey world without escape leads her to risk losing what she has But how much of a loss would that be? She recklessly compounds the already existing hurt in Orren and Bell It cuts deeply for if her relationship with Orren was so average her behavior wouldn’t prove so potentially damaging The combined fears and cultural prohibitions prevent all three characters from enjoyment of the present They are in a constant state of what if There is betrayal and lies The kind of terrible lies that lead to a howling anger at a world left less sparkling A story of a woman who steps too boldly and thoughtlessly in a world of man made restrictions

  5. Caterina Caterina says:

    It was always dissonance that she liked bestHow difficult it is for humans to understand and communicate with one another — even lovers How difficult to discern and form lasting mutually supportive relationships and marriages How difficult it is to embrace life in the face of death and all the forces that push us towards despair And how to discern the path between love and ambition between thinking that going elsewhere is the answer and embracing life here and now honoring the commitments already made to each other And maybe it's not in the either or but in the dissonance the vibration between these conflicting notes that life is real lifeThis is a fine debut novel an intense deep dive into a few transformative months in the life of a young woman driven by dissonant desires In spare beautifully crafted sentences sensual evocations of place lyrical eroticism and spot on Appalachian dialect it grapples with these issues of commitment responsibility and morality; of faith and doubt; of lives circumscribed by poverty culture and religious milieu; and of the traps this kind of life or perhaps life in general seems to set for young people or for women or perhaps for people in general And of the hope that remains madness is in their hearts while they live and after that they go to the dead But whoever is joined with all the living has hope for better a living dog than a dead lion Ecclesiastes 95 epigraphAloma Earle a character who conveys a visceral sense of aliveness discovers her own talent and passion for classical piano at an Appalachian settlement school in rural Kentucky and wants to take herself out of the dark mountain hollow to a life she imagines will be both literally and metaphorically brighter It is unexpected and almost shocking when the sight of the hills affects her not with their beauty but with an almost PTSD level dread at the thought of being stuck there forever Morgan is good at this kind of unexpectedness; her prose is always fresh At the same time in a way that is almost animal and beautiful even breathtaking Aloma initiates what turns into a passionate relationship with a seemingly free young man a student from the state agricultural college Orren Fenton is attracted in turn to Aloma's independent combative personality I can see you're nobody's fool he says Their carefree student relationship takes the plunge into real life and Orren into adulthood when his mother and brother are killed in an accident leaving Orren alone in charge of his family’s small drought stricken tobacco farm Although Orren is indeed free in the sense of being single Aloma soon learns that he is unfree in other ways she never imagined When at his reuest Aloma joins him to take on a wife like role confusion ensues on both sides with regard to their mutual intentions and level of commitment Both grapple with the transformation wrought on Orren by his grief and desperation while Aloma seemingly grapples alone with her desire to play piano seriously At Orren's suggestion Aloma finds work playing piano for the church his mother attended not really very satisfying for a classical pianist but she manages also to practice her own music As she plays the pastor Bell Johnson becomes attracted to her thinking she is available Aloma has concealed the fact that she is living with Orren which is unacceptable in that time and place And Aloma's ambivalence to marriage grows with the reality of what living with Orren will mean Although both Aloma and Orren are now orphans their experience of orphanhood is almost diametrically opposed Aloma cannot remember her parents and has no ties Orren is bound and tied to his ancestral home in a way Aloma can't fathom From the walls of his living room dozens of pairs of eyes stare at her all the way back to hand tinted portraits of Confederate soldiers What has she gotten herself into? There are no glib answers I found this an interesting twist of the threads of modernity and tradition Aloma is modern in her mobility but traditional in her traditionally womanly? sense of the importance of religious faith to a mature life handled seriously by Morgan yet with a delicate touch while Orren is modern in his separation from religion but traditional in his commitment to marriage family and land and history From my perspective there was no shortage of red flags on either of these two men At times I found myself thinking Run away Aloma run away Weirdly both Orren and Bell have old pianos in their homes that have been so badly neglected that they are beyond restoring to playability Oh good grief I'm pretty sure that heavy handed omen was a deliberate dose of black comedyI loved the way Morgan conveyed the complexities and dissonances of Aloma’s character her almost breathtakingly combative conversational and even physical relationship with Orren Fenton and her ambiguous chaste friendship with Bell Aloma is both “relatable” and not entirely likable — her gratuitous bitchiness and deceptions can come back to bite her Yet there was also something very real and good about Orren and Aloma's developing relationship and I'm someone who believes that just because a relationship is difficult doesn't mean it isn't right and I felt that Morgan left that possibility open The novel’s ending was both surprising and ambiguous with elements of tragedy and hope leaving a lot to chew on I would like to know what happens in Aloma’s life which given her personality promises not to be boring Now I want to read everything else CE Morgan writes455 Updatedrevised my review 12152018 after having some time to chew on my thoughts about the book a while longerImage credits1 Abandoned piano Photographer Roman Robroek Daily Mailcom Actually in Italy not Kentucky2 Old church in Lynch Kentucky Photographer Bryan Woolston Daily Mailcom For a paper with such a bad reputation Daily Mail seems to have good photo spreads assuming they are correctly attributed As an American I actually had no idea of the reputation of Daily Mail when I found these pictures by Google searches 3 Man harvesting tobacco during a drought near Midway Kentucky Photographer Charles Bertram Lexington Herald Leader4 Traditional tobacco barn with drying tobacco leaves Bloomfield Kentucky Photographer Linda Bruckheimer NettieJarviscom

  6. Angela M Angela M says:

    I might have given this 3 stars if I based it solely on the story which is slow moving and where nothing seems to really happen Then I thought about how much the writing conveyed and decided 3 stars wouldn't be fair There's no need for me to give a synopsis of the book ; you can read that yourself I can only tell you that I could see the drought on this tobacco farm probably somewhere in Kentucky I could feel Aloma's emptiness her desire for a happier life her need to fill the void in her life that has been wanting of family and love I could feel Orren's grief and his burden of responsibility to save the family farmI can say that the ending was not what I would have hoped for early on or even in the middle of the book but was satisfied that this was howit should be 4 stars

  7. Ariel Gordon Ariel Gordon says:

    IT might seem strange to recommend a novel about a drought set in the US south while we endure our northern floodBut a conflagration is a conflagration and Kentuckian CE Morgan's All the Living is a damn fine distractionThis lean little novel Morgan's first tells the story of Aloma and Orren a young couple who attempt to run the family farm after Orren's mother and brother die in a tragic accident Two things get in their way the drought that has settled over the region and the fact Aloma and Orren's relationship isn't sanctified by marriageWhile we don't know precisely when the novel is set in the Kentucky small town time and place they inhabit it matters that Aloma and Orren aren't marriedAnd if that isn't enough worry over losing the crop and by extension the farm is turning the grief stricken Orren inside outAloma from whose point of view the novel is told agreed to join Orren at the farm and act as farm wife because she loves him but also because she doesn't know what else to doWhat she doesn't understand is running a farm never having even lived in a house beforeAnother thorn is that Aloma discovered at school that she was a gifted pianist And the piano at the house that Orren promised was in working condition is ruined the sound was spoiled like a meatWhile she can learn to cook and clean to feed the chickens and hope for rain Aloma can't unlearn her ambition and it only take a month without playing the piano before she gets a job playing hymns at a local churchThis is where Aloma meets Bell Johnson a farmer whose version of noblesse oblige means that he like his father half ruins his own farm so he can also preach at the churchBell a bachelor with a suspicious mother and worse a ruined piano of his own at home is drawn to Aloma or rather to Aloma at the pianoAloma likes that Bell can talk circles around what is bothering him and that he seems to need her unlike the flinty distant Orren But she is trapped playing house with Orren and it is uestionable whether marriage to Bell would satisfy her ambition any than marriage to Orren wouldBut no matter your notions of duty versus ambition or marriage versus living in sin it is hard to ignore the sexy muscular writing on offer here Also of note is Morgan's skill in depicting the desperate but aimless energy of early adulthood particularly from a female perspectiveAlthough the book does nod towards Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer winning Gilead 2004 in some ways All the Living feels like a reverse angle telling of that story Morgan is interested in exploring dissonance than harmonyAnd while Morgan's master's in theology from Harvard Divinity School shows in her rendition of entire sermons Bell's is a small practical theology heartfelt and palatable even to those who prefer their fiction secularfrom my review which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press April 5 2009

  8. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    Oh this is a beautiful and melancholic read Astonishingly so The story is a timeless one To Stay or To Go The setting is a small town at the base of the mountains in Kentucky The descriptions of farm life church love and internal conflict are flawless It is in these descriptions that it is evident CE Morgan went to Divinity School at HarvardThe ending broke my heart But I would read it again without a moment's hesitation

  9. Neil Neil says:

    After I finished this book I looked up a few reviews of it A word that seems to be used uite often is thoughtful and another is uiet For me I'd add claustrophobic a very limited set of characters and very little that actually happens My reaction was to want to escape to get out to a bigger place and I think this was at least partly the author's intent There is some excellent writing that conveys time and place very well But there is also some slightly annoying writing because the author loves a poetic phrase perhaps a bit too much for my taste anyway and she does love to verb a noun which can sometimes be effective and can sometimes be annoyingI was a bit disappointed by the ending if I'm honest But I'm not going to say anything here about that I read this because it is a book selected for the 21st Century Literature group so any discussion about plot and ending will happen there rather than here

  10. Susie Susie says:

    This book really affected me It was all I could think about during the couple days I spent reading it and it is still stuck in my head a week later It made me think about whether love is just a matter of circumstance and whether in the search for freedomhappiness it is ok to settle for mediocrity or what one is comfortable with Morgan has a very distinct way of writing which plays into the vivid imagery of the book She uses words in a pleasantly strange way not strangely pleasant that describes things at a whole new level Overall this book is amazing I have been reading a lot lately and this is by far the best book I have come across in a very long time There are plenty of useful reviews about the plot but my meaningful contribution is just to say you have to read All the Living

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All the Living ➵ [Reading] ➷ All the Living By C.E. Morgan ➪ – A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceOne of the National Book Foundation's 5 Best Writers Under 35Finalist for the Hemingway FoundationPEN Award for a distinguished book of fictionThird Place i A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceOne of the National Book Foundation's Best Writers Under Finalist for the Hemingway FoundationPEN Award for a distinguished book of fictionThird Place in Fiction for the Barnes Noble Discover AwardAloma is an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle educated at a mission school in the Kentucky mountains At the start of the novel she moves to an isolated tobacco farm to All the Kindle - be with her lover a young man named Orren whose family has died in a car accident leaving him in charge The place is rough and uiet; Orren is overworked and withdrawn Left mostly to her own Aloma struggles to settle herself in this lonely setting and to find beauty and stimulation where she can As she decides whether to stay with Orren she will choose either to fight her way to independence or accept the rigors of commitmentBoth a drama of age old conflicts and a portrait of modern life C E Morgan's debut novel is simply astonishing a book about life force the precious will to live and all the things that can suck it right out of a person Susan Salter Reynolds Los Angeles Times.

  • Paperback
  • 199 pages
  • All the Living
  • C.E. Morgan
  • English
  • 22 February 2016
  • 9780312429324

About the Author: C.E. Morgan

CE Morgan b is an American author She won the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize among other honorsAs an undergraduate Morgan studied voice at Berea College a tuition free labor college for students from poor and working class backgrounds in Appalachia In exchange for a free education all students work for the college while enrolled Morgan also attended Harvard Divinity Schoo.