The vivid and absorbing story of a man whose unwavering pursuit of success leaves him searching for the true meaning of life
Raised in rural Arkansas during the Great Depression, Frank “Son” Wynn leaves home at age fourteen to seek his fortune. Handsome, charismatic, and headstrong, he eventually becomes a powder man, selling dynamite up and down the Mississippi River. With a single-minded determination, he expands his business at every opportunity, foreseeing the crucial role his product will play in constructing dams and levees to bring the region’s annual flooding under control. Step by step, over the course of a long and challenging career, Son outmaneuvers his competitors and achieves a level of prosperity far removed from his humble beginnings. He is the quintessential self-made man—impressive and exasperating in equal measure, the cheerful expression he wears to greet customers masking the giant chip on his shoulder.
His health failing, Son retires and finds that all those years of striving have built a wall between him and his family. His wife has never forgiven him for not coming home for the birth of their daughter. A young woman now, Laurel is barely more than a stranger to her father. As his condition worsens and his past accomplishments lose their luster, Son must ask himself if a lifetime of success came at too great a price. With Laurel at his bedside, he has one last chance to connect, to create something of true and everlasting value. Will he be brave enough to take it?
A rich and satisfying portrait of one man’s life from beginning to end, Old Powder Man affirmed Joan Williams’s reputation as one of the most skillful and psychologically astute novelists of her generation.