Cassandra Singing

  • Author(s): Madden, David
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 1999-04-28
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $18.95 | Buy Now

“Madden has a lyric, a magical tone . . . and he is at his best with dialogue. The words in this novel are very nearly musical. . . . Eastern Kentucky is perhaps not all beautiful, but it is beautifully felt in this novel.”—Joyce Carol Oates, The Southern Review

“Cassandra Singing successfully combines crude animal vigor with intellectual force. Maintaining a sure, steady hold on its subject, it takes us into a strange world and brings that world to life.”—Peter Wolfe, New York Times Book Review

Set in the exotic coal country of eastern Kentucky’s mountains, Cassandra Singing centers on a brother and a sister and their contrasting ways of coping with life. Lone McDaniel is drawn to a life of action, riding a motorcycle with his friend Boyd Weaver, the wildest and most dangerous boy in town. Cassie McDaniel, bedridden for most of her life with rheumatic fever, lives in the world of her own imagination, feeding vicariously on her brother’s stories of his adventures with Boyd and Boyd’s girlfriend, Gypsy.

Cassie’s strange imaginings and the folk songs she sings are her efforts to communicate with Lone, and they affect him in two ways: They pull him unwillingly into the tangled emotional terrain of his family, and they fuel his urge to escape from the nearly incestuous relationship he has with Cassie. When a willful act of destruction lands Lone in jail, Cassie decides to go out into the world, where she finds herself drawn gradually to Boyd. Both are isolated from others—Cassie by her vision of life, Boyd by his hostile actions—but they have one thing in common: their strange love of Lone. Cassie’s attempts to become Lone hurl this searing novel toward its dramatic climax.

The Author: David Madden is creator and Director the U.S. Civil War Center at Louisiana State University. Cassandra Singing, his second novel, was originally published in 1969. His other highly praised novels and short story collections include: The Suicide’s Wife, Bijou, The New Orleans of Possibilities, On the Big Wind, The Shadow Knows, and Sharpshooter (Tennessee, 1996). He is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee.