William March’s debut novel, Company K, introduced him to the reading public as a gifted writer of modern fiction. Of that World War I classic, Graham Greene wrote: “It is the only war book I have read which has found a new form to fit the novelty of the protest. The prose is bare, lucid, without literary echoes.” After Company K, March brought his same unerring style to a cycle of novels and short stories—his “Pearl County” series—inspired in part by his childhood in the vicinity of Mobile, Alabama.
Come in at the Door is the first in March’s “Pearl County” collection, and it tells the story of Chester, a boy who lives with his withholding, widowed father, and Mitty, who keeps house and serves as a surrogate wife to Chester’s father and a mother to Chester. One morning before dawn, Mitty takes Chester to the Athlestan courthouse to watch the hanging of a man who’d killed “a grotesque, dwarflike creature” he thought had “laid a conjure” on him.
Throughout Chester’s rambunctious young manhood, the gruesome memory hovers just below the surface of his mind, recalled in detail only at his father’s death, when the book sweeps forward to its shattering denouement. A classic of Southern Gothic that illuminates family, class, race, and gender, Come in at the Door marks the homecoming of a Southern storyteller at the peak of his craft.