Publication Year: 2014
The worlds of three women and the men they love come together in this novel of war and hurricanes, loss and renewal. Christiane, or Nana, reliving the past in her eighties, her granddaughter Angela, working at a Biloxi casino in her twenties, and their teenage friend Cam, the daughter of a Vietnamese shrimper, form a deep connection. As they face heartbreak, their bonds nurture and sustain them. Ordinary people impacted by the shifts of history— Come Landfall is a southern story with a global sensibility.
The Gulf Coast serves as more than just a setting— it is a character unto itself. With casinos lining one side of the highway, antebellum homes along the other, and a Vietnamese neighborhood up the road, here the old South collides with the new. From households along this stretch of US 90, lineages and emotional connections stretch all over the world.
Inspired by true events, Roy Hoffman’ s novel has its seeds in the saga of his uncle, Maj. Roy Robinton, US Marine Corps, a WWII prisoner of war in the Philippines who disappeared as captive on a Japanese “ hellship.” His young bride, back home, was ground down, waiting.
Christiane returns in her mind to the man she married at twenty-one— Rosey, a flyer with the Army Air Corps who was in the Philippines at the outbreak of WWII. Angela meets Frank, an airman at Keesler Air Force base who is proudly patriotic, deeply religious, and a student of weather. Cam falls in love with Joe, a Biloxi cop, and her own tumultuous story begins to interweave with that of Angela’ s and Nana’ s. What’ s taken from Nana, Angela, and Cam (and so many others when storms make their landfall), what’ s given back, and what’ s kept forever sit at the heart of this
intimate yet expansive novel.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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In dress blues the Army Air Corpsmen face each other down the aisle of
the Presbyterian church and when the command comes—“Arch swords!”—
they lift their sabers, point to point.
Beneath this steel canopy the bride and groom walk, her shining officer at her side, her satin wedding dress flowing. “’Til death do us part,” echo ...
Part I: Nana's Soldier
One: Stardust Melody
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When rain whipped the harbor windows of the Cotton Gin Casino, Angela looked up from her serving tray, past the hectic slots and feverish dice tables, and pictured Nana in her room at Coastal Arms. A few miles from where she carted orders of bourbon and gin, her grandmother sat at the assisted living facility wringing her hands with every...
Two: Men in Uniform
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At the Nguyens’ house on Oak Street in the early morning, three blocks from casino row, sunlight washed through the den that held objects precious to Phi Nguyen, Cam’s father. In frames on the wall were Cam’s honor roll certificates, a color photo of Cam as a little girl with her mother, Kieu, in front of Fancy Nails in Biloxi, and a black-andwhite...
Three: At First Sight
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Seeing Max head toward her across the casino floor, Angela could hardly imagine curling up with him under a slow ceiling fan. Without his guitar to give him stature, his lank body, stubbled chin, and Frank Zappa T-shirt turned him into a scrawny hound....
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Frank strategized their dates like an art, a Dixie Chicks concert at the Biloxi Coliseum, boiled crabs and beer at the Friendship House, a James Bond movie, a boat ride. Angela told him that men she’d gone out with had typically called last minute, mostly to hang out at Rudy’s. “I’m impressed with your planning,” she said, “of course, I don’t...
Five: Foreign Correspondence
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Along Oak Street, by the Vietnamese Catholic Church with its pagoda roof and statue of Mary like a Bodhisattva near the koi pond, Cam biked through the Saturday afternoon sunshine. She’d played piano at Coastal Arms that morning while Daddy headed to his shrimpboat to work on the engine. As she cycled along, she passed two teenage girls ...
Six: Out of the Blue
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Sunday night passed, Monday and Tuesday, and by Wednesday the first call from Frank came. Angela didn’t answer the phone, just watched defiantly as his name showed on caller ID. She’d finally deleted Max from her caller list; in another week or two she’d scroll down to Frank’s number and do the same. He called again. She did not answer. He left...
Part II: Feet Planted, Sand Caving
Seven: Over the Threshold
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On a stretch of Virginia Beach near where Nana had grown up, dunes soared tall as a schoolhouse. During a driving trip with Nana and Lucky to Washington, D.C., when Angela had been a kid, Nana had insisted on a detour to that beach and an overnight at an ocean-side motel....
Eight: Hidden Voices
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She folded up the letter and took off on her bicycle down Oak Street. When she zipped across the highway and down the road by the school shuttered for summer, she saw the Bodhisattva standing tall, her beatific eyes downcast, her left hand holding the pitcher that forever ...
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After eight months of marriage, Angela was still learning the different aspects of her husband. There was his “I’ll pray on it” part, where he wrestled with matters of right and wrong, from whether to tell Big Frank to hire a male nurse to help him with personal matters (Big Frank kicked him out of the house with his prosthetic leg when he...
Part III: The Roaring Wave
Ten: Counting the Days
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Waiting. In her apartment on the third floor of a Georgetown apartment building. Waiting, as she watched the capital turn to soldiers everywhere, guards doing rounds by the White House, the Washington Monument, the Pentagon. Waiting, gazing out the window, pouring a glass of red wine into the silver goblet that she’d given Rosey and that...
Eleven: A Rising Wind
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By how Joe cradled her—lifting her up lightly next to his police cruiser, carrying her through the doorway of the hunting camp— Cam knew he cared. When he laid her down on the Indian print spread of the beat-up sofa bed and kissed her on the forehead, she felt like his treasure. Gone was the rough Joe, the angry Joe. In his...
Twelve: Blow the House Down
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The hunting lodge—Cam knew it now like a room in her own house, the mounted buck heads with their glassy-eyed stares, the stacks of Maxim and Guns & Ammo, the refrigerator stocked with venison and beer, and the bed near the fireplace, Joe’s bed, rumpled with its Indian print bedspread....
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How long the night was she waited. She went on the Internet and looked up Balad Air Base Hospital. Frank was being stabilized there. She had the picture of a tent hospital set up among concrete barricades. The Air Force website said that insurgents, next to civilians, next to servicemen, received treatment there....
Fourteen: An Outside Hand
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Cam brought Joe to her doorway every way possible in her mind: after his beat, when his shirt was rumpled and his eyes looked tired and he needed her to massage his shoulders and pour him a beer; on a Saturday afternoon, when he was in the yard tending their garden and took a break, his T-shirt slung around his neck like an athlete’s towel; and just...
Part IV: Heavy Weather Blues
Fifteen: Heart's Destination
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Beneath her the Gulfport Airport dropped away, and Angela looked down at the tiny figures until they were blurs: Nana, Cam, Mrs. Torres, Big Frank, the Gin Circle, Frank’s friends from Keesler. She clutched her itinerary: Gulfport–Atlanta–New York/JFK–Frankfurt, Germany. This time tomorrow she would be at Frank’s side at Landstuhl Hospital ...
Sixteen: Journey of Return
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“It’s not fair that it’s spring,” Angela thinks, gazing out over the tarmac of the Gulfport Airport at the Japanese magnolias blossoming beyond the runway, their creamy pink petals like a mockery of the airplane’s hard, silver steel....
Seventeen: Hold Me Tight
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They sit by the clock that turns but goes nowhere and the shoe boxes filled with offerings—sympathy cards with pictures of angels and crosses and hands folded in prayer, envelopes with memorial contributions in Frank’s name to Victory Brotherhood, Sunrise Baptist of Marks, First Baptist of Biloxi, Little Sisters of the Poor, September 11...
Eighteen: Double Play
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“Nana?” Angela called out, stepping into the apartment, met by the droning of big band music on the radio. “Nana,” she went on, sensing something was wrong. “Cam’s okay, the doctor said she just needs to take it easy, she’s been so upset about her dad and all.”...
Nineteen: Never Let Me Go
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If Cam could just throw off the steam bath heat of Mississippi July, ponderous even at dusk, she would feel better. With her feet at the edge of the Sound, and Mai making her feel like she weighed three hundred pounds, she turns this way and that, hoping to catch the breeze. She eases into the Sound, mild as a bath. Against her swollen ankles,...
Twenty: From the Sea
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She heard them out the window, low and throaty, their notes like the lowest register of Cam’s piano. She imagined them in the lingering pools of August rainwater, their plump bodies sensing every shift in barometric pressure. The CNN and Weather Channel newscasters were stationed up and down the coast—from the roiling surf of Pensacola ...
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The disappearance of my uncle, Major Roy Robinton, U.S. Marine Corps, as a prisoner of war in the Philippines during World War II forever impacted my mother, Evelyn, who was his younger sister, and my dad, Charles, who tried to find out details of his final days on a Japanese...
Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2014