Big Cactus Reviews

“While reading Sylvia Wilkinson’s Big Cactus, I laughed ‘til I cried and cried ‘til I laughed. It’s that good!”

Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and The Writing Life, and Teaching a Stone to Talk

Benny’s and Aunt Lucy’s voices in The Big Cactus are the soul of this story, a story as American as the landscape they pass through to get the old woman to the Big Cactus. From North Carolina to Arizona, like Huck and Jim on the river, they learn about themselves. Benny learns what he wants to become and Aunt Lucy, what her life in one place has amounted to. They both discover what they love and why, revelations that carry the reader along with them. Wilkinson’s sense of the human heart is unerring.

Jane Gentry, Poet Laureate of Kentucky and author of A Garden in Kentucky and Portrait of the Artist as a White Pig

“There’s nothing like a good road trip novel — and Sylvia Wilkinson is the best driver around — a wonderful, thoroughly engaging read!

Lee Smith, author of Guests on Earth, On Agate Hill, and The Last Girls

“When I finished reading Big Cactus, I wanted to go back to page one and start all over again. That’s because I didn’t want to part from these three amazing travelers: Benny Foushee, Aunt Lucy Williams, and Tennessee Gentry (to say nothing of the dog). Sylvia Wilkinson’s ear for southern speech is pitch perfect, and she uses it to create a genuinely American Odyssey, wonderfully funny and tenderly wise.”

R. H. W. Dillard, author of The First Man on the Sun, What is Owed the Dead, and The Greeting: New and Selected Poems

“You want a great book that does not slow down one minute? You want a deep reminder of the kind of love-of-language humor you find in Welty, O’Connor, Charles Portis, James Wilcox, and Shakespeare? And you want the best adventure cross-country east-west trip you’ve ever read — starring tenth grade Benny, Aunt Lucy, a girl named Tennessee, and a dog? Then pick up and read BIG CACTUS by Sylvia Wilkinson. It’s a hoot, a howl, a story with heart as deep and wide as the wild west.”

Clyde Edgerton, author of The Bible Salesman, The Night Train, Walking Across Egypt, and The Floatplane Notebooks

“It’s a rollicking literary road trip which, like any great trip, is fun but also illuminating, full of poignant insights. Aunt Lucy is an indelible character, a person who might require her own glossary.”

Leon Capetanos, whose films include Moscow on the Hudson, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Fletch Lives

“Sylvia Wilkinson has been too long away from us. Now, with BIG CACTUS, she returns to the novel with one of the best quester myths I ever read. Anyone who accompanies plucky Benny and his headstrong Aunt Lucy on their mystical and not-so-mystical mission across our strange America is in for a helluva journey. And a helluva good time!

Fred Chappell, award winning poet and author of Family Gathering, Backsass, and Shadowbox

“Sylvia Wilkinson is an amazing writer who leaves me marveling and shaking my head in wonder; she is very wise and her comic timing, genius. BIG CACTUS is a rollicking, unforgettable journey.”

Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life, Going Away Shoes, and Ferris Beach