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All True Not a Lie in It
Cover of All True Not a Lie in It
All True Not a Lie in It
A New Face of Fiction for 2015, All True Not a Lie in It is pioneer Daniel Boone's life, told in his voice--a tall tale like no other, startling, funny, poignant, romantic and brawling, set during the American Revolutionary War and hinging on Boone's capture by the Shawnee.
Here is Daniel Boone as you've never seen him. Debut novelist Alix Hawley presents Boone's life, from his childhood in a Quaker colony, through 2 stints captured by Indians as he attempted to settle Kentucky, the death of 1 son at the hands of the same Indians, and the rescue of 1 daughter. The prose rivals Hilary Mantel's and Peter Carey's, conveying that sense of being inside the head of a storied historical figure about which much nonsense is spoken while also feeling completely contemporary.

Boone was a fabulous hunter and explorer, and a "white Indian," perhaps happiest when he found a place as the captive, adopted son of a chief who was trying to prevent the white settlement of Kentucky. Hawley takes us intimately into the life-and-death survival of people pushing away from security and into Indian lands, despite sense and treaties, just before and into the War of Independence. The love story between Boone and his wife, Rebecca, is rich and tangled, but mostly it's Boone who fascinates, pushing into places where he imagines he can create a new "clean" world, only to find death and trouble and complication. He is a fabulous character, unrivalled in North American literature, and a prime candidate for the tall tale. The storytelling is taut and expert, the descriptions rich and powerful, the prose full of feeling, but Boone is what drives this outstanding debut.
A New Face of Fiction for 2015, All True Not a Lie in It is pioneer Daniel Boone's life, told in his voice--a tall tale like no other, startling, funny, poignant, romantic and brawling, set during the American Revolutionary War and hinging on Boone's capture by the Shawnee.
Here is Daniel Boone as you've never seen him. Debut novelist Alix Hawley presents Boone's life, from his childhood in a Quaker colony, through 2 stints captured by Indians as he attempted to settle Kentucky, the death of 1 son at the hands of the same Indians, and the rescue of 1 daughter. The prose rivals Hilary Mantel's and Peter Carey's, conveying that sense of being inside the head of a storied historical figure about which much nonsense is spoken while also feeling completely contemporary.

Boone was a fabulous hunter and explorer, and a "white Indian," perhaps happiest when he found a place as the captive, adopted son of a chief who was trying to prevent the white settlement of Kentucky. Hawley takes us intimately into the life-and-death survival of people pushing away from security and into Indian lands, despite sense and treaties, just before and into the War of Independence. The love story between Boone and his wife, Rebecca, is rich and tangled, but mostly it's Boone who fascinates, pushing into places where he imagines he can create a new "clean" world, only to find death and trouble and complication. He is a fabulous character, unrivalled in North American literature, and a prime candidate for the tall tale. The storytelling is taut and expert, the descriptions rich and powerful, the prose full of feeling, but Boone is what drives this outstanding debut.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One My sister the whore is shown before all the Friends at Exeter Meeting like a grub spaded up. She stands at the centre of the room, and we all sit up on the benches round her to see. Sallie has got her confession prepared. She holds the paper before her face and talks as if she has got a mouthful of chewed potato. Unusual for her to talk so flat, she could run a blab-school if she liked. Heels-up Sallie, the boys say. Give her a tap and over she goes. Always the last to leave a bonfire or someone's new barn in the dark.

    I watch her tip back and forth on her famous heels. Her cap is slipping to one side, she tugs a curl out over her ear and lifts her eyes to see who is watching. Her fellow stands a few feet away looking out the window. I listen for words of interest but the only ones I catch are I was too conversant and fornication. She admits to all of it though it is evident enough to anyone who takes one look at her belly from the side. And everyone does look.

    This is not usual Meeting. The air has a stunned feel as if a shot has just gone through it. The leaders have summoned all of the Friends. The benches are full. Even the Friends from the country farms have driven to town for it.

    Daddy bursts into sad perspiring, his smell rises up like bread. He is set to get up and walk off. But Ma's fingers tap upon little Neddy's head, and so Daddy sets his jaw and keeps himself on the bench beside her. I slide my feet in circles. I want to laugh. My sister Bets creases her nose like a fox, and my oldest brother Israel does laugh under his breath.

    —This is my confession.

    So Sal finishes, but one of the widows near the door begins to swat her haunch and complain of ill winds. Bets chokes a giggle and whispers in Ma's voice:

    —Do you suffer from wind, my dear Danny? I give her a poke. Hill's father carries on with Sallie and her fellow:

    —In truth you were too conversant with one another before this day.

    His voice is a wealthy man's voice, every word rings like a coin falling. His face has its usual rosy look, but it becomes imaginative for a spell. I become imaginative also. I have not at this time witnessed any conversant doings at our house beyond those of the cows and bull, which are not entirely interesting, being so brief. At this time I am an innocent boy, but I am interested in many things in my mind.

    Hill's father asks Sallie will she now be married before all these Friends.

    She says she will. Her fellow takes a sip of air through his teeth and says he will take her to wife.

    Well it is done. Easy. Sal sneaks a look at us, she is thinking, That is that. Her eyes are bright. I hear her give her finger joint a pop, as is her way. Not a whore any longer. A wife. Safe, like magic. Well. God is not immune to performing tricks, perhaps He pops his finger joints also.

    —And your confession? Plenty of time.

    Hill's father has turned to the fellow, his voice is kindly enough in asking. In his mind, we might sit here all day, but Sallie's new husband says a brisk no thank you! He is not a Friend, he is an outsider. Perhaps he is not so certain he wishes to be inside the Boone family after all. But too late. He twists his feeble beard like a wick and squints, though I know he is not squint-eyed. He is keeping his eyes from his new wife's lower half. Everyone else is still looking.

    Hill's father walks a few paces across the centre of the room and then turns in quick hope to Daddy:

    —The truth is all that we seek in this life. Confession makes us new. You will confess now, Friend Boone? Daddy rises, just...
About the Author-
  • Alix Hawley studied English literature and creative writing at Oxford University, the University of East Anglia and the University of British Columbia. She published a story collection, The Old Familiar, with Thistledown Press in 2008. She won the 2014 Canada Writes Bloodlines competition, judged by Lawrence Hill, and was runner-up for the CBC Literary Award for short stories in 2012 and 2014. She teaches at Okanagan College in Kelowna, BC, where she lives with her family.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 25, 2016
    This historical fiction debut is a quiet, sweeping story about the life of mythic frontiersman Daniel Boone. Told entirely from the perspective of Boone himself, the book meanders through his early childhood, sharing formative moments such as his joy for the first gun he owned and his brother Isaiah teaching him to hunt, and his family's exile from their religious community in Exeter, N.H. From there, the reader follows Boone on his peripatetic adventures as he pushes westward, searching for paradise. Though Boone does marry and start a family, he can't be tied down and has a constant itch to carry on his search for heaven on earth. Adventure is both wondrous and tragic for Boone, who sees his first herd of buffalo and traverses the beautiful, untouched land of Kentucky but also has multiple run-ins with the Shawnee and grieves the deaths of loved ones. The narrative is carried by the strong, poetic voice, which at times is as hard to pin down as the man himself. Boone's ghosts—of both people and places—follow and haunt him despite his attempts to shake them off through almost constant exploration into the unknown. Hawley's marvelous book shines light on a figure that has become more legend than man, sharing an intimate and raw portrayal of Boone that rings true. Agent: Denise Bukowski, Bukowski Agency.

  • Joyce Carol Oates WINNER 2015 – Amazon.ca First Novel Award

    LONGLISTED 2015 – Scotiabank Giller Prize

    "Alix Hawley has written a boldly original, mysterious, and provocative novel--the demythologizing of an American icon and his reinvention as a figure of poetic luminosity. She is Cormac McCarthy's young heiress, with a light and forgiving heart."
  • Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder
    "An extraordinary feat of backwoods ventriloquism, carried off with great flair and conviction, across the boundaries of custom, time and gender. Alix Hawley invests afresh in the voice of Daniel Boone and his tough familiars, bringing shock and sensuality, but also surprising tenderness, to the famously rugged frontier myth."
  • Regina Marler "Alix Hawley's resurrection of the great woodsman, Daniel Boone, is astonishingly, uncannily vivid. Lightly stitched to the sparse historical record, this is not a picture of the frontier itself so much as the restless spirits of exploration, love, memory, and greed that drove Boone--'the white Indian'--west through the wilderness. His voice cracks like a musket shot across these pages--brave, confused, and yearning--and Hawley's close, dream-like perspective lends a hallucinatory aspect to her prose, as if we are looking out Boone's eyes at those lost landscapes and faces. An amazing debut."
  • Frances Greenslade, author of Shelter "I fell in love with Alix Hawley's Daniel Boone, a man drawn to the beating heart of the wild landscape that stretches beyond his known world, and who risks recklessly to preserve his freedom."
  • Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life "All True Not a Lie in It moves with surety and grace through legends and landscapes trod by more than a few major artists. Watching Alix Hawley negotiate this challenging terrain, via Daniel Boone, of all American stories, is a serious literary thrill. An audacious debut."
  • Tracy Chevalier, author of The Last Runaway and Girl with a Pearl Earring "Alix Hawley has really done a number on an American folk hero. With vivid imagery and a strong, dreamlike voice, she confidently strips away the myth of Daniel Boone to reveal the strange, pulsing man underneath. It is a remarkable feat and a remarkable book."
  • Alexi Zentner, author of The Lobster Kings and Touch "Alix Hawley's debut novel is audacious and bold, like an early Ondaatje, with writing that is luscious, lyrical, and bloodthirsty. Like Hawley's narrator, Daniel Boone, All True Not a Lie In It constantly seeks out new ground, wrapping the reader in a landscape of language and dream."
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