I’ve never understood the idea of a beach read. When we finally have the time and attention span for a more fulfilling book, why are we then supposed to read something idiotic? Padgett Powell’s Edisto, which takes place within sight of a beach, isn’t a difficult read—it’s propulsive and written with a light hand—but it’s also rife with all those harder topics that make a book worthwhile. The story of a boy and his surrogate father, the novelist Walker Percy once said that Edisto was a better than Catcher in the Rye. I waffle on this contention, because comparing books with each other is a difficult thing. Most of the time, however, I agree.
The book was re-released this year by FSG Classics.
Meakin Armstrong is Guernica’s fiction editor.