AT BOBBY TRIVETTE’S GRAVE by Donna D. Vitucci
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At Bobby Trivette’s Grave
I read this book over the weekend.
This is a wonderful novel set in rural Kentucky about family, love, loss and forgiveness. Vitucci has done a masterful job of capturing the details of life in a small town in Kentucky, but the story she has told is universal.
I don’t think I’m giving away anything (given the title) to reveal that Bobby Trivette is the boyfriend of DruAnn Finch a high school senior. He dies in a car accident and his death obviously has a life-changing effect on DruAnn, but also on her parents, Reece and Beverly, both of whom have secrets from their youth which have shaped and haunted their adult lives.
Vitucci conveys a passionate and poignant story with a clear eye. It’s heartbreaking without being mawkish or sentimental. This is high quality literary fiction, but I hope it also finds a market with young adults. Her teenage characters – their love and their loss – is treated with the respect and the compassion that they deserve.
Highly recommend this book.
I have been paying attention and following Donna Vitucci’s writing for a bunch of years now. For this I am sensitive to small things, a phrase, a word, a brief description that the reader unfamiliar with her work may not notice. I like reference to underground botany.
With At Bobby Trivette’s Grave I find a language that slowly builds to lift the story into a metaphor of the living, and a context for the suddenly dead.
Concurrently, as I write, this is the week in which Donald Trump is called out as to what he likes to grab. Subsequently millions of women go on to tweet stories of sexual assault. This is a relevant detail to relate to an appreciation of At Bobby Trivette’s Grave. It is prescient of one of the details of the novel that I found perplexing, not that an assault would not occur, but to the extent that such an understated act of aggression becomes a deeply buried motivation that takes over the remainder of one’s life. Though in this novel the travails of gender politics are not solely oriented toward girls and women, every character, including the boys and men, have their quiet and secret burden from which they are unable to escape.
Donna brings forward her prose in such a manner that the characters, the universal themes, when the reading is completed, they carry on beyond.
When considering how best to review Donna Vitucci’s “At Bobby Trivette’s Grave,” my initial inclination was to simply say: “Congratulations, Donna, on a great book, and thank you for an excellent read.” While such a perfunctory response might satisfy someone like the author who obviously knew the work in question intimately, it was manifestly inadequate when I later tried to express my reaction to the book to a friend of mine. Excellent in what way, exactly? Good question. As a former academic heavily invested in the study of English literature, answering that question meant relying heavily on that old analytical warhorse “compare and contrast.”
After my most recent reading of ABTG, I realized that it reminded me of a favorite book of mine. Note the following similarities between ABTG and this “favorite”: both novels take place in the south, both revolve around families in crisis, a crisis that is exposed and exacerbated by the death of a loved one, a death that occurs very early in the narrative, a narrative that is presented via multiple points of view, including that of the deceased who speaks from beyond the grave. In other words, ABTG reminded me of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” The two stories resonate with readers for similar reasons: the subject matter and the techniques used to convey that subject matter. In AILD, the primary concern is finding some way of getting Addie Bundren’s corpse in the ground, properly and finally, while recounting the journey required to accomplish that. In ABTG, the characters are concerned with finding a way of accepting that Bobby’s corpse has been laid to rest, while coming to terms with the various journeys some of the characters took before his death and some that occur in the aftermath of his death. As mentioned above, both Faulkner and Donna use multiple points of view to tell their tales (though, admittedly, Faulkner uses a few more than Donna does). And while Donna’s prose is definitely not as baroque as Faulkner’s can be, it is, to my mind, often just as poetic and as accomplished.
The value of such a comparison is limited, of course. If you have not read Faulkner’s book, saying ABTG is similar will be meaningless, unless you have some inkling of Faulkner’s reputation which would then allow you to infer that the comparison is, at the very least, complimentary in some way. And if you have read AILD, the differences between the two books might seem more pertinent than the similarities. So, the point is this: I read and enjoyed ABTG *full stop*—but it also reminded me of a great book I had previously read and enjoyed. As to what conclusion about ABTG one might draw from this? I would suggest that before arriving at that conclusion, a reader should first find a copy of “At Bobby Trivette’s Grave,” read it, and then decide. (And read “As I Lay Dying,” too, if necessary.) Whatever you choose to do, I am confident you won’t be disappointed. And thanks again, Donna, for a really great read.
About The Author Donna Vitucci
Donna is Development Director of Covington Ladies Home, the only free-standing personal care home exclusively for older women in Northern Kentucky. She is a life-long writer, and was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize in 2010. Her short fiction has appeared in dozens of print and online journals and anthologies. AT BOBBY TRIVETTE’S GRAVE takes place ninety miles south of Donna’s home in Covington, Kentucky. She lives, works, and shares the best of urban living with her partner in the city’s Historic Licking Riverside District. Her historic home is a continual work-in-progress.
Visit Donna’s webpage click here http://www.magicmasterminds.com/donnadvitucci