Loyal Ledford of Huntington, West Virginia, is the unassuming central figure of THE MARROWBONE MARBLE COMPANY, the lyrical second novel from Texas State grad GLENN TAYLOR, whose debut, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. Ledford’s world is shaped by three pivotal events: He is orphaned in 1935, when his drunken father crashes the family’s Model A pickup; he kills a man in cold blood during World War II; and he quits his job at the Mann Glass Company in protest against its racist policies. Ledford becomes a devoted family man and pacifist, but we’re still caught off guard when, in the midst of a deeply segregated South, he builds a toy-marble factory and an adjoining settlement as a progressive experiment in communal living. His partners include an African American refugee from Mann Glass and a freethinking professor of philosophy, and when word gets out of black and white living together, the community inevitably
becomes the object of racial violence. The Marrowbone Marble Company gives off a slight whiff of self-righteousness—not startling considering its themes of social justice—but its openhearted sincerity is welcome and refreshing in our cynical times. Ecco, $24.99