He opened the closet door. It was empty. He stood there blinking. The closet should have contained three suits and some slacks and a few pairs of shoes. The shelf at the top should have displayed at least a dozen shirts and an equal number of shorts and some socks and handkerchiefs. But none of it was there. Just an empty closet.
In his compassion and his art, Gardner moves beyond race, beyond guilt and punishment, as Twain and Melville did, into a tragic forgiveness. I've rarely read such a beautiful and individual novel as this one.