Eighth Day

Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day. New york: Harper & Row, 1967.

In the beginning John Ashley came from New York, hired as a maintenance engineer to repair and fortify the mines of Coaltown, Illinois. Breckenridge Lansing was the managing director of the mines. This is how their paths would cross, innocently enough. Their paths would uncross when John shoots Breckenridge in the back of the head. Simple enough. After John is convicted and is on his way to be executed for the crime he somehow escapes. For the first part of the book we follow John’s trek to Chile where he resumes his mine work. The rest of the book follows the lives of the people he left behind: his wife and children, Breck’s widow and children. While the story meanders through philosophy and religion, the storyline is clear. There is something definitely amiss about this murder. John claims he is innocent and yet he was the only one with a gun.

Quotes I liked, “Gossip had solidified into convection as prejudice solidifies into self-evident truth” (p 5) and “The people of lower Illinois are not given to superstition; they did not say the house was haunted, but it was know that “The Elms” had been built in spite, maintained in hatred, and abandoned in tragedy” (p 26).

Reason read: the beginning of The Eighth Day takes place in Illinois and Illinois became a state in December.

Author fact: Wilder died in Hamden, Connecticut. According to FindAGrave, he is buried in New Haven.

Book trivia: The Eighth Day won a National Book Award.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “100 good Reads, Decade By Decade (1960s)” (p 175).

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