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a novel by

Joel F. Johnson

Arbitrary Press


Coming of Age in the Segregated South

Now in his seventies, "Little" Nickerson confronts a childhood he has kept “encased in glass." He narrates a boy’s journey from his suburban home to the textile mills, where workers haggle over the price of a slice of watermelon; to a Black church, where the congregation drums the floor in a thunderous response to a call for equal rights; to a shotgun shack, a book-lined study, and a hidden spring; to a burned-out barn, where men shoot rats, drink beer, and mock the cause of civil rights.

Advance praise for Never

"Johnson’s eagle-eyed prose perfectly captures the mores and frailties of his characters and their community ...  Johnson manages to bring LaSalle and its people to life in a way that often feels revelatory ... An observant and immersive work about a society in flux."

- Kirkus Reviews

"In stunning prose, Johnson has written a powerful, deeply compassionate story about compelling characters struggling with complex issues that still determine lives today."

- Meredith Hall, author of Beneficence

"She came to our house every day, fed me my bottle as an infant, held my hand at the curb, crushed crackers into my soft-boiled eggs.  Bit commanded a vital place in our home, mother figure and servant, confidant and cook, a stranger I thought I knew."

From Chapter 1

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