By Michael McDowell
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Additional info for The Amulet
The vegetation is coarse, and sharp, and not much good for anything. The only plants that seem to grow well are trees whose lumber is worthless, and shrubs with thorns and briars. The four kinds of poisonous snakes indigenous to the continental United States are found together in only one place: the Wiregrass area of Alabama. That seems only natural to the people who live there. In one corner of the crowded camp, 'wiregrass', the coarse ground cover that gives the area its nickname, had been shorn close, and an extensive firing range constructed for the rifle instruction and practice of army inductees from all over the country.
On Saturday morning, the stores are crowded with people who spend money with glad hearts, knowing that they may have the chance to make it all back in the afternoon. All day there is a line in front of the city hall, everyone in town sticking his few or many tickets through the narrow slot in the top of the barrel. Everyone likes to give it a 'lucky' spin, in hopes that the motion will increase the chance that their own ticket will be pulled out by the pretty blonde girl in the high white boots, and the gold tassels on her stovepipe hat.
Jo had wanted a new house, but could not afford it. The whole of her life, she grumbled, had been like that. It was sometimes said, in the places where farmers gather, that Josephine Howell had driven her husband to an early grave with her sullen temper, her constant complaining, and her intractable laziness, just so that when he was dead she could sell the farm and move into Pine Cone, where she wouldn't have anything to do but grow fatter than she already was, if that was possible. The problem was, that she had had to wait until Dean was old enough to support her, so that she wouldn't have to do any work at all.