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Handling Sin [Paperback]

Michael Malone
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2010
On the Ides of March, our hero, Raleigh Whittier Hayes (forgetful husband, baffled father, prosperous insurance agent, and leading citizen of Thermopylae, North Carolina), learns that his father has discharged himself from the hospital, taken all his money out of the bank and, with a young black female mental patient, vanished in a yellow Cadillac convertible. Left behind is a mysterious list of seven outrageous tasks that Raleigh must perform in order to rescue hisfather and his inheritance.

And so Raleigh and fat Mingo Sheffield (his irrepressibly loyal friend) set off on an uproarious contemporary treasure hunt through a landscape of unforgettable characters, falling into adventures worthy of Tom Jones and Huck Finn. A moving parable of human love and redemption, Handling Sin is Michael Malone's comic masterpiece.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Demonstrating a spirited grasp of the genre, Malone (Dingley Falls has written a "romance novel" in the original sense: a long tale of chivalrous heroes and extraordinary events. This madcap book bubbles with a frenzy from the first pages, an initially disconcerting pace that rarely allows the reader to catch a breath. With a wink to Cervantes and Dickensas well as the Marx Brothersthe narrative recounts the two-week odyssey of Raleigh Whittier Hayes, an upstanding citizen of Thermopylae, N.C., and Mingo Sheffield, his Sancho Panza. They encounter a bizarre cast of characters during their adventures, including Raleigh's criminal half-brother Gates, his prison buddy Weeper Berg, and aging jazzman Toutant Kingstree. Their quest, to unfairly simplify it, is to recapture Hayes's ailing father, who has escaped from the hospital with a young black woman, and who has left Raleigh a strange set of tasks to fulfill before a planned rendezvous in New Orleans. While tantalized by the promise of a secret treasure at the end of the journey, Hayes uncovers family secrets and Raleigh is granted a large measure of self-enlightenment. This is a highly refreshing tale in which Malone has managed to make the bizarre hilariously credible. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

With braggadocio, Malone says in his acknowledgments that he expects a major movie company to buy Handling Sin. And his novel's scenario does seem designed to outdo Cannonball Run , Peyton Place and, at times, Porky's. It stars Raleigh W. Hayes, Baptist Church stalwart, Civitan regular, staid insurance agent, who miraculously metamorphoses overnight into Bruce Lee/Rocky/Rambo as he totes a pistol, battles the KKK and the other gangsters, poses as an FBI agent, and shades of Mickey Spillainehas sensuous women swooning as he travels from Thermopylae, N.C. to New Orleans with excessively contrived adventures. This episodic novel panders with explicit sexual encounters, manipulated incidents/coincidences, and flagrant reliance on deus ex machina. But, alas, there is little reading pleasure in it. Glenn O. Carey, English Dept., Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
ON THE IDES OF MARCH, in his forty-fifth year, the neutral if not cooperative world turned on Mr. Raleigh W. Hayes as sharply as if it had stabbed him with a knife. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of all time July 9 2004
_Handling Sin_ is, in my opinion, Michael Malone's best book to date. It provides excellent satire on politics, social trends, race relations, "political correctness," classism in general but particularly in the South, relations between the sexes, religious hypocrisy, and many other subjects of weight. It also provides a lot of interesting, well-researched historical information about the South from an author who, even as he pokes fun of its shortcomings, clearly loves it with all of his heart. This book doesn't take itself too seriously and is so downright pointlessly silly over and over that I laughed out loud. By underneath and through all its many forms of humor, biting, silly, sarcastic, slapstick, goofy, or deliciously sly, this book sneaks up on you, surprising with much genuine sweetness and, in the end, unabashed reverence for love, family, God, faith, basic human decency and kindness, and the goodness of life.
Because this book was written in the early 80's, a time before the internet, cell phones, and other technological and cultural trends of our day, someone who reads it today might not find it nearly as funny as I did when I first read it around 20 years ago. And unlike Malone's other books, there are no murder mysteries or many admirable public officials to be found. But as regrettable as that may be for some, I believe that for the underlying messages of good will and faith and sweetness, _Handling Sin_ is well worth reading all the same.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What? No more stars? March 4 2003
OK... I admit I read this book well over a decade ago for the first time. I've read it twice since. "Handling Sin" is just one of those really great books. I don't mean great like "Bonfire of the Vanities" or something like that. I mean great like 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" or "David Copperfield". I'm talking classically great. And "Huckleberry Finn" is good for comparison as "Handling Sin" is a journey book as well, where the main character, Raleigh Whittier Hayes, travels throughout the south in search of his father, only to find, you know i'm gonna say it, himself.
First and foremost, "Handling Sin" is belly-laugh funny. I've never laughed with a book as much as I did with this one. And it's touching as well. I came to really like the characters that people this book. At the end, I really wanted to continue knowing them. I could go on and on praising the merits of this book, but you people don't know me so I'll keep it short. There is one last thing to be said: none of Malone's books approach the sheer joy and mastery of this one. I know; I've read and been disappointed by them all.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The contrary view May 1 2002
By A Customer
Although this started out as one of the funniest books I've ever read, it faded over time as the adventures of "our hero" drifted from whimsy into silliness. At the outset, the situations Mingo and Raleigh found themselves in were very funny, and I did find myself laughing out loud. But, the tales grow tired, and the characters don't really develop. The family history adds an interesting subplot, but it is overshadowed by the silly chase and dash scenes the main characters are constantly thrown into.
Along the way, Mingo discovers he is not a coward, Raleigh discovers he is not a heartless miser, and Gates discovers he is a relatively bright slacker. A heart, a brain, and courage, hmmm.
Anyway, a lot of the story could have stayed on the cutting room floor - especially the Stone Mountain tale and the Klan tale. I found myself skipping pages and skimming just to make it to New Orleans. It was like being in the Caddy with the characters and asking "Are we there yet?"
If you want a funny, crass adventure tale, try "Stormy Weather," "Straight Man," or Westlake's "Why Me?" These are as humorous and odd, but they are much shorter and far more believable.
Coming soon, don't miss the film adaptation of Handling Sin - "Midnight Run in the Garden of Dumb and Dumber."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comic masterpiece Nov. 1 2003
Wonder, madcap, outrageous, hilarious farce. Raleigh Hayes of Thermopylae, NC, discovers his father has absconded (after escaping from the hospital) with the family fortune and taken off for points unknown in an egg yolk-yellow Cadillac convertible. His companion of choice is a young female - no big surprise - but she's also a mental patient and of a race traditionally looked down upon in the Deep South. Raleigh, following clues on a left-behind list that give him 7 tasks to accomplish, sets off on what quickly and predictably becomes an odyssey. His sidekick is his friend Mingo, and the two of them quickly become the lead comedic characters in their own play as they wend their way toward New Orleans and a "planned" rendezvous - as if anything could really be planned when dealing with this wacko cast.
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By A Customer
How can this book have only 1 or 2 reviews? If you're a guy (or even a women) who secretly loves Barbara Kingsolver's early works or has a tattered copy of the YaYa Sisterhood or Little Alters stuffed in the bottom of your sock drawer, then you can proudly add this book to your collection. A great read with fun, everyday characters from all our lives who (through a comical adventure testing the human spirit) change before your eyes. From small town, across country to the haunts of New Orleans, this book will come to life as each page turns. I bought 20 copies for Christmas and got 20 sincere thanks back. Buy, read and enjoy!
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