The Halloween season is a perfect time to read Clint McCown's novel, Haints. The story begins and ends with a sailor returning to his grandfather's property in the Tennessee Valley on February 29, 1952. Signalman 3rd Class Ronald Dawson briefly relives the events preceding the sinking of his ship, the USS Partridge. He feels responsible for the eight dead and six wounded. As he stands haunted by the memory of the disaster, he sees the dark spiral that will sweep through the small town below. The reader takes the fatal leap with him.
Just moments before the tornado hits, we are introduced to the novel's first character, Herb Gatlin. He and his neighbors are all haunted by some secret from the past. They are entwined because they share the same small town space where evil spirits or "haints" linger. Hidden connections between characters are revealed throughout the novel. The tornado that sweeps through the town cuts through many facades including the invisible barrier that had divided the white and black sections of the town.
The term "haint" is Southern slang for ghost. Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang edited by Clarence Major defines it as "ghost, spirit, specter, phantom, apparition, a disembodied spirit; probably a corruption of haunt and dates the noun from the 1690's to 1940's." (p. 219)
The word "haints" echoes throughout the novel that also has a biographical connection. McCown shared that information during an interview in 2013.
Haints is available with New Books displayed on Floor 3 of the Ort Library. Other works by McCown available at the library include:
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