Olympus, Texas is the debut novel from Texas writer Stacey Swann, who possesses a distinctive voice, a Southern style of storytelling as befits Baja Louisiana. East Texas, in all its primordial, primeval, practically biblical glory (“The world without form and without shape”), is the fitting setting for the fictional Olympus and the sins of its minor deities. The big thickets east of Interstate 35 are “[n]ot a hiking forest but scratchy impenetrability” and the cottonwood fluff “rides a mud-saturated current” in the slow-moving Brazos. Olympus is fictional but only in the sense that you can’t locate it on a map. Everyone who grew up in or currently lives in small-town Texas (small-town anywhere) will recognize it viscerally; there are the comfort and claustrophobia, the generations of ne’er-do-wells and the fiefdoms, the practical if not literal incestuousness of it all, and the gossips who draw nourishment, vampire-like, from the foregoing.
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