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One More River
by Mary Glickman

Published: 2011-11-01
Paperback : 262 pages
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From the author of Home in the Morning comes this National Jewish Book Award Finalist: the sweeping story of a father and son, and of the loves that transform them amid the turbulence of the American South

Bernard Levy was always a mystery to the community of Guilford, Mississippi. He was ...
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Introduction

From the author of Home in the Morning comes this National Jewish Book Award Finalist: the sweeping story of a father and son, and of the loves that transform them amid the turbulence of the American South

Bernard Levy was always a mystery to the community of Guilford, Mississippi. He was even more of a mystery to his son, Mickey Moe, who was just four years old when his father died in World War II. Now it?s 1962 and Mickey Moe is a grown man, who must prove his pedigree to the disapproving parents of his girlfriend, Laura Anne Needleman, to win her hand in marriage. With only a few decades-old leads to go on, Mickey Moe sets out to uncover his father?s murky past, from his travels up and down the length of the Mississippi River to his heartrending adventures during the Great Flood of 1927. Mickey Moe?s journey, taken at the dawn of the civil rights era, leads him deep into the backwoods of Mississippi and Tennessee, where he meets with danger and unexpected revelations at every turn. As the greatest challenge of his life unfolds, he will finally discover the gripping details of his father?s life?one filled with loyalty, tragedy, and heroism in the face of great cruelty from man and nature alike.
 
A captivating follow-up to Mary Glickman?s bestselling Home in the Morning, One More River tells the epic tale of ordinary men caught in the grip of calamity, and inspired to extraordinary acts in the name of love.

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. The title of this novel comes from a famous spiritual, “One More River to
Cross,” which appears at the beginning of the book. What does this evoke for
you?
2. One More River revolves around parallel stories of two men—father and
son—attempting to forge their paths in an uprooted, frequently hostile American
South. Did you identify more with Bernard or with Mickey Moe? Why? In
what ways might each of their journeys have been different if they were undertaken
today?
3. Beatrice Sassaport refers to “cues of proper behavior,” and states that they are
necessary for her social interaction—so much so that she invents her own if a
situation arises in which she feels lost! How did you feel about Beatrice Sassaport’s
character at the beginning—and by the end—of the novel? As a mother,
how does she compare to Rose Needleman?
4. Paternity is clearly a running theme. How do different fathers act towards
their children? What was your reaction, for example, to Lot Needleman’s parenting
decisions? Which fathers does the novel seem to treat most charitably?
5. “He learned that rough men felt fear, that women could bear pain, that a
body could watch moonbeams dance on the river and go mad from the sight.”
How did Bernard Levy’s lessons during his first career as a physician’s assistant
influence his actions later in life?
6. “Bernard was pure besotted with Aurora Mae.” To what extent does a Jewish
man’s love for an African-American woman evoke the intersection of the Jewish
and African-American experience in the segregated South? What elements of
these two “outsider” groups relate to one another?
7. “It was natural that Horace and Bernard would become best of friends.” In
many ways, Bald Horace is the key to unlocking the Levy family history. How
does the relationship between Bernard and Bald Horace evolve over the course
of the novel?
8. “Lay down, woman. Bernard the handsome shouted. Lay down and marry
the goddamn river.” What was your reaction to the language and events in the
climactic scene of the Great Flood in which Aurora Mae’s presence on the plantation
is revealed, and Bernard the handsome and Bernard the ugly confront
one another?
9. Aurora Mae says to Mickey Moe that after the flood, “Life belonged to those
with a gun and those with gold. We had both.” Do you find inspiration in such
a self-sufficient female character? What are your own thoughts on self-defense?
10. “I don’t like guns, he said. Laura Anne looked at him as if he’d just said he
didn’t care for sunshine or birdsong.” How does Laura Anne’s self-sufficiency
compare with Aurora Mae’s? What are the similarities and differences between
these two women?
11. Ghost and spirits pepper the novel; as early as the first chapter, Mickey Moe
recalls Laura Anne saying: “I like to find out first about the person settin’ right
there in front of me, not all the old ghosts.” How do the characters alter their
decisions or change their lives because of such ghostly influence?
12. Women of color are often described, by the narrator and other characters, as
seers, witches, prognosticators, or even moderately gifted meteorologists. Why
do you think this is?
13. The majority of One More River takes the form of a quest for legitimization
of identity and paternity, but the question of identity turns out to be unpredictable.
Bernard’s identity is faked, as is Moe’s paternal “good blood.” Paternity,
relations, and “blood” are important to many of the characters, such as Laura
Anne’s parents. In what ways does this issue of “good blood” still come up in
today’s society?
14. Mickey Moe convinces Laura Ann to lie to her parents with the example
of his father’s deceptions. “Look at the lies he had to tell to find love and then
protect it,” he says. “Was he wrong?” Given the Needlemans’ bias, do you think
Mickey Moe and Laura Anne are ultimately justified in deceiving them about
his background? Do you think that sincere love can excuse some dishonesty?
15. Vietnam bookends Mickey Moe’s narration and the entire novel. Why
might Vietnam have been chosen? Does a casualty or death during war lend a
certain honor and dignity to men whose lives might otherwise have been considered
sordid or disingenuous? What other connections exist between Vietnam
and conditions in the American South during the novel’s time periods (early
1920s and 1960s)?
16. If you were to post a two-sentence review on your Facebook wall or elsewhere,
what would it say? Are there any passages that you’ve highlighted in the
novel that you’d like to discuss with the group?
17. If you’ve read Mary Glickman’s previous novel, Home in the Morning, how
does this work compare to its predecessor? In what ways does One More River
further the exploration of Southern-Jewish identity that was introduced in
Home in the Morning?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from the author:

One More River tells the back-story of one of Home in the Morning’s most vibrant characters, Mickey Moe Levy, and particularly of his romance with his future wife, Laura Anne. We’re in the Deep South in 1962 and, although the two fall in love hard and fast, her parents withhold their approval until Mickey Moe can prove the quality of his people, as it seems Mickey Moe’s daddy was discovered to be an imposter after his death in World War II.

That man, Bernard Levy, was of suspect means from the day he appeared in Guilford, Mississippi—and stole the heart of the beauty of the Sassaport family, Mickey Moe’s mama, Beadie—but the size of his purse quieted all doubts and allowed him to play the role of moneyed gentry until his death exposed it all as a sham. Twenty years later, the clues of who he might have been have gone stale. Beadie isn’t talking and Bald Horace—a local black man addled by time, trouble, and disease, the man who knew his daddy best—provides only the slimmest evidence. Still Mickey Moe takes what meager information he has and embarks on a quest to discover his daddy’s identity, a quest that leads him into the backwoods of Mississippi and Tennessee during the violent crisis of the civil rights era. Unable to sit idly by, Laura Anne runs away to join him. Her brave, liberating act unwittingly leads him into the heart of danger at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan.

Told parallel to their adventures is the story of Bernard Levy, a quixotic lover in his own right, by turns a Mississippi river rat, common laborer, penitent thief, and noble saint. His story takes us from his birth in 1905 to his death at the Battle of the Bulge and encompasses the one of the greatest natural disasters in American history, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, when the river overflowed as much as fifty miles on either bank from Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, displacing a million people, and changing the course of the economic history of the South.

When I was between novels and casting about for a subject, I only knew that I wasn’t done with Mickey Moe Levy from Morning. He has a secondary role in that story, but he exudes charm and likeability and I couldn’t just put him away. There’s an elemental aspect to both Mickey Moe and his father, Bernard Levy, that I find irresistible in men—or should I say characters—because the kind of Frank Capra-esque men I admire don’t often exist anymore. These are men with strong passions and high ideals, with perhaps foolish, perhaps courageous determination to love well and live honestly. In my mind, when such men—and women—come up against life’s cruel realities, great drama and inspiration are born. Sometimes they are crushed, but they retain a nobility. Sometimes they succeed. Always, they go on, true to themselves.

So once I was focused on Mickey Moe, I gave him a mystery around his lineage because lineage is very important in the South and that dilemma would ground the story both in its era and in its setting. At the same time, my husband was reading Rising Tide, by John M. Barry, a remarkable nonfiction account of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. His enthusiasm for the text infected me. He read me bits and pieces aloud and that sparked my imagination. Here was just the kind of cruel reality that could serve as a perfect playing field for my themes.

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Member Reviews

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  "I cannot recommend this book highly enough"by ebach (see profile) 01/30/12

I cannot recommend highly enough ONE MORE RIVER by Mary Glickman. I’ve been calling people to tell them to read it. I even convinced someone’s book club. Plus, ONE MORE RIVER is a 2011 N... (read more)

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