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When the Dust Finally Settles

Narrated in part by a ghost, when the dust finally settles is a novel focused on land, loyalty and racial politics in the 1968 South. Mawatuck County (also the setting for Mead’s The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan) is a place where the present continually collides with the past, a fact underscored by one unseasonably hot, dry week in May. Mabel Stallings is determined to make her grandchild love the family farm as much as she does. Clarence Carter is determined to escape paying taxes by “playing” crazy. Harrison Doxey, a black student in a white majority high school, is determined to dance and drink at The Lido, a whites-only dance hall at the beach.


When anyone asks if Southern Literature has a future in our internet, iPhone, jet-lagged, speed-of-light world, I point them to Kat Meads. Simply put, you must read Kat Meads.

—Jason Sanford, Founding Editor, storySouth


You think the dead don't hear and see—backwards, forwards, all at once, piecemeal, big picture, best and worst?

Surprises coming your way, my friend, that much I guarantee.

You go by the majority, fearing death turns out to be a big chunk of what living is, people more or less sniffing the stench of end before dropping a molar, fretting in advance about the where, when, how soon, how hard, who'll care, who won't. Another example, if you're looking, how Clarence Carter skirted the average, plowed his own row so to speak, disinclined to anguish over either side of the great divide. A gift for the carefree, you might call it, though folks in Mawatuck did and do tag it something different.

No need to be a spook to hear this particular deceased passed judgment on, ridiculed in best Christian fashion. Go ahead. Nose around, groundside. Take one of those house-to-house opinion polls. Won't get a single door slammed in your face, probably get invited in for sugar tea and cake while my former neighbors confide the long and shortcomings of Clarence Carter.