Recently, I have been asked more than once, “What are some of your favourite books of all time?” This got me to thinking because it’s not always an easy question to answer if you read a lot, but the one that always springs to mind first is Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon.
Back in 1991, I was seeing a psychotherapist and she recommended the book to me for sheer pleasure reading as I was reading a lot of psychological and self-help books at the time. I bought it right away and read it and she was right! It’s one of the most beautifully written, magical, compelling stories I have ever read. I really want to read it again, soon, as soon as I can find the time!
Robert R. McCammon, who now simply goes by Robert McCammon and recently wrote The Queen of Bedlam and Speaks The Nightbird, is from Birmingham, Alabama and is known for his horror writings but that’s not the only genre Mr. McCammon writes in. Boy’s Life won the honor of Literary Guild Book Clubs Selection, Winner of the 1991 Bram Stoker Award and Winner of the 1992 World Fantasy Award.
From the back cover of the original edition:
Robert R. McCammon captivated millions of readers with his storytelling power in such bestsellers as Mine, Swan Song and Stinger. Now he has created this tour de force: BOY’S LIFE, a masterpiece of magic and mystery, of the splendors of growing up in a small town, and the wonders beyond. Narrated by one of the most engaging young voices in modern fiction, BOY’S LIFE takes us back to our own childhoods, when bicycles were enchanted steeds and anything was possible…
Zephyr, Alabama, has been an idyllic home for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson…a place where monsters swim in the belly of the river, and friends are forever. Then, on a cold spring morning in 1964, as Cory accompanies his father on his milk route, they see a car plunge into a lake some say is bottomless. A desperate rescue attempt brings Cory’s father face-to-face with a vision that will haunt him: a murdered man, naked and beaten, handcuffed to the steering wheel, a copper wire knotted around his neck. As Cory struggles to understand the forces of good and evil at work in his hometown, from an ancient woman called the Lady who conjures snakes and hears the voices of the dead, to a violent clan of moonshiners, he realizes that not only his life but his father’s sanity may hang in the balance…”
Reviews for Boy’s Life:
“Incredibly moving – boyhood as it should have been, recollected in genuine and generous detail…Boy’s Life is just really gorgeous. It’s McCammon’s The Prince of Tides…incredibly moving.” – Peter Straub
“This superbly told tale combines the sensibilities of Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, and Steven Spielberg…a solid coming-of-age story and a fine mystery…Devour this beautiful book.” – New York Newsday
“A wonderful story of powerful emotions, marvelous images, and inventive narrative…Filled with enough adventure, joy, discovery, and heartache for a dozen boys’ lifetimes.” – Houston Chronicle
“McCammon captures the joys and fears of late childhood with sure strokes, ably conveying his love for the time, the place…The novel works exceedingly well.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Boy’s Life is a wonderful book. It recaptures the magic of being a child in a world of possibilities and promise. It is about being born with ‘with whirlwinds, forest fires and comets inside us.’ And it reminds us of a magical time before the magic was ‘churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out.’ Boy’s Life is for the boys – and girls – in all of us.” – Atlanta Journal-Constitution
If you are interested in reading more from Robert McCammon, I would also recommend Gone South and Speaks The Nightbird.