There is currently widespread despair over labor shortages throughout 21st Century economies. However, the problem is nothing new. Tracey Rose Peyton tackles the issues in a stunning and horrifying way in her amazing debut “Night Wherever We Go”. Here the setting is pre-Civil War rural Texas. The problem: too few slaves and Harlow “Lucy” can’t afford to buy more. What is a repulsively racist, misogynist, violent, alcoholic, patriarch supposed to do? Sorry you asked.
Peyton is a great stylist. Characterizations are authentic and compelling. Actions, scenes and inner-thoughts are thoroughly depicted. There are sections told from a single or limited point of view, where the reader feels placed smack dab in the set-pieces, for better or for worse. My favorites are the passages written in a 1st person plural voice. They vividly describe natural, spiritual, social, mystical ways of coping. There are also frequent gems of historical fiction dropped unobtrusively in just the right places — highly enlightening, educational, and disturbing.
Peyton forces us to wonder how evil humans can be. The gruesome, ruthless, relentless torture and brutality seems solely meant to debase and strip others of their final shards of dignity. It is the rare slaveholder who exhibits even a modicum of doubt. But humans are resilient, born of grace and dignity. Faith and community will prevail in the end, if not for me, then for my children. Hope is eternal.
“Night Wherever We Go” is a deeply moving, thought-provoking debut effort. It is cinematic in effect while being emotionally penetrating and visceral. This will be sure to stand out once it hits the shelves, and I will be looking forward to whatever Peyton next chooses to do.
Be advised that multiple acts of dehumanization and violence are depicted in some detail throughout.
Thanks to ecco and NetGalley for the eARC.