Greensboro native Matthew Griffin’s debut novel, “Hide” recently won the Crook’s Corner Book Prize for the best debut novel set in the American South. It is the story of two older men who have long lived together on the outskirts of a small North Carolina town.
Frank is a World War II veteran, tough talking and covered with tattoos. Wendell is a taxidermist. They have paid a heavy price for being gay, but the story’s power comes from the tortured and tender way in which Wendell and Frank adapt to the aging Frank's rapidly deteriorating physical and mental condition.
As the novel closes, readers may be moved not so much by the problems Frank and Wendell had as gay people, but by the challenge of finding meaning at the end of life.
Wendell, who always fixed the meals, has trouble adjusting to cooking for just himself when the bedridden Frank eats only nutrient shakes. He has too much time to fill and finds “the biggest danger of all is an empty space in the day. It’s easy, then, for the whole thing to break through and rush in and join the emptiness inside.”
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“You just go on living,” Wendell says. “You don’t have to have a reason.”
EDITOR’S NOTES: D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch” Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. This week, Matthew Griffin talks about “Hide” at noon Sunday and 5 p.m. Thursday.