"The Dredgeman's Revelation" is set in the Florida Everglades in the early 1930s. The United States was in the grips of a terrible depression, much worse than the economic issues it has suffered in the last decade. The story opens with the birth of Louis Thanksgiving in a New York City charity hospital. His unwed mother whose name the hospital did not know named him Louis after his mother died. He was sent to a foundlings home. Along with other babies he was advertised as up for adoption and they were then put on a train to the middle west of the USA where he was adopted by a farmer who used him as a slave. He ran away at 16. The skipped around the country looking for work and he ended up in south Florida. He got a job working on a crew that was draining parts of the Everglades for development. Conditions were terrible, food was horrible and the work was dangerous but Louis did not mind as he had never known anything better. The men on the crew were the closest to friends or family he ever had.
Russell does a very good job of letting us see what life was like for the Dredgemen, as the workers were called. Florida in the early 1930s was not Miami Glitz and Disney world. It was a very different world than most think of now and I really liked how Russell this story helps us understand just how hard life was for the people in those times.
"Florida, in those days, was a very odd place: a peninsula where the sky itself rode overland like a blue locomotive, clouds chuffing across marshes; where orange trees and orderly rows of vegetables gave way to deep woods and then, farther south, broke into an endless acreage of ten-foot grass. This, finally, was the vision that reached Louis through the boxcar door: a prairie that looked as vast as the African savanna."Am amazing surreal event takes place at the end of the story. It involves elements of Magic Realism and it is really powerful.
I enjoyed this story and will await curiously to see how her new collection is received.