Arnco is Ben's first published work and when I asked him which of all his books he would like to see highlighted here it was this one. I understand why. I just completed my second read through of Arnco and saw things in it this time that I missed the first. I loved many things about this book, first of which is the locale in which it is set. Arnco, Georgia is a mill town without a mill about 40 miles outstide of Atlanta. It is a village with a cast of characters familiar in all small towns throughout this country, with that strong rural identity. It is a love story, as much between our hero and a childhood friend he is reunited with, as it is between he and the town he remembers from summers spent on his Grandmother's porch.
I felt the pull to go back home reading this book, I felt the need to sit on my own childhood front porch with the people who taught me to be the person I am. I was relieved with the maturity shown in handling the growing love affair between Allie and Jake and the fact that I didn't have to read through teenage gropings and flirtations. This love is a grown up love between people who have their own complex lives that a love has to fit within. Arnco is full of complex life histories that echo very clearly the reality we all live.
I also have to say that Ben Muse has accomplished something that I find very difficult. He works from two different narrative perspectives through the book and he does it so masterfully that I did not feel interupted by the shiftings in points of view. If you haven't given this book a try it is well worth the read.