Raymond Atkins’s ability to capture the true cadence and beauty of the human voice is some of the best writing to be found anywhere. These eccentric characters of faith, from the liberal, laid back Early to his Bible-quoting, vision-capturing sister Ivey, are my people. There have been times in my life that I desperately needed that old bus to pull up at my door, save me and mine, and carry me to a safe place full of forgiveness and peace. This story serves to remind me that God, in all his mysterious ways, does indeed have a redeeming plan. A beautiful, honest portrayal of faith and the gift of everlasting love.
River Jordan, Praying for Strangers
In Camp Redemption, Ray Atkins twines the romance of Echota Lake’s lore of valley enchantment with the colorful folkways of the Willinghams. Early Willingham (who can believe in the magic of the place when he smokes a little Panama Red) negotiates with considerable amusement a life with Ivey (half crackpot relation and half recipient of divine revelation) as their summer bible camp founders and then fills with a wealth of characters. Everything about Camp Redemption says the novel is a Janus, one head looking toward comedy and local color and the grittiness of daily life in a North Georgia realm of blessed backwardness, the other head peering—though not without comedy—into regions of the afterlife.
Marly Youmans, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
This book is a riot. Ray Atkins is richly talented and funny as you-know-what. Go ahead and get Camp Redemption right now. I guarantee that you’ll delight in this read as I did.
Lauretta Hannon, The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life
Smart, funny, well-written and full of spirit, Camp Redemption emerges as a real page-turner. I found myself dreading the end of the book because I was so invested in the characters. And that, my friends, is good writing.
Michael Buffalo Smith, Kudzoo Magazine
Atkins is a comic writer, able to see the humor in every situation and to follow it where it leads. Like his other novels, Camp Redemption is loosely plotted -- plot isn't the element that interests him most. What he cares about is his characters, their talk, their attitudes and values and their wonderful inability to realize how very weird they are. Atkins delights in putting two or three of these people together and letting them talk. He doesn't construct comic monologues; no, what he does is listen to the natural voices of these people and turns them loose on a page. What results is honest and hilarious. He captures the cadences of southern speech, the colorful metaphor-filled language and the love of story-telling that still characterizes all of the south except the major cities. Atkins is reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty, sharing their passion for the truth and their innate gentleness. He's a more accessible Faulkner, without quite as much darkness. He deserves to be read far and wide, not just in his native south. He has much to show us about his region.
Michael Scott Cain, Rambles.net
Camp Redemption is set in the North Georgia town of Sequoyah, where Early and Ivey Willingham run a failing Bible camp. Early is a pot-smoking underachiever, and his much older sister Ivey is a modern-day prophet who entertains regular visits from dead relatives and pesky angels. After the two are forced to shut down the camp, it becomes a haven for an assorted cast of misfits and runaways. The narrative threads converge one blustery November morning with a resolution that is poignant and deeply satisfying. It takes a writer of a certain age—and abundance of wisdom—to pull that off so neatly.
Teresa Weaver, Atlanta Magazine
Raymond is a hoot of a storyteller. You know the type. He’s full of smart-a** one-liners, and his story meanders down dirt roads, and sneaks around unexpected corners. One of the things I love best about Camp Redemption is the loving sibling relationship between Early and Ivey. It’s rare that a writer is able to capture the affection between brother and sister. For Raymond Atkins it seems second-nature; he does it with such ease and grace.
Karen Spears Zacharias, Mother of Rain
Camp Redemption indeed feels like a (Ferrol) Sams novel: witty, with small town, off-beat characters who hold traditional beliefs but are tolerant and questioning. This novel nearly goes sentimental with homeless, hungry children being fed and visits by angels, Mama and other people you might expect to meet in heaven, but it doesn’t quite. It is neither a Christian novel nor a satire of faith. Owing to Early’s sardonic and irreverent if sometimes wordy commentary and the supporting cast of cynical lawyer, cynical bootlegger and Jesus’s murderous father, Camp Redemption remains, happily, dark comedy. There is even some violence, gunplay, and killing. This is rural northwest Georgia, after all.
Don Noble, Alabama Public Radio
I have frequently stated this same phrase, "Raymond could write a toaster manual and I would read it repeatedly." The man can turn a phrase like few are able. His words flow like butter over hot corn on the cob. He can take a simple phrase and put a dry, wit-filled spin on it and turn it from plain descriptive wording to poetry. I know I sound ridiculously gushy about the author and his book, but in all seriousness, there are a few authors that I have come across whose wordplay is almost so fascinating and well done that I don't really care what the book is about, I just enjoy reading what they have put down on paper. Raymond happens to be one those authors. At the same time, this is a truly enjoyable book to read. The characters jump off the page and are alive with emotion. Early and Ivey are a lovely pair of siblings with nothing but kindness in their hearts, and watching them deal with the interesting pile of eccentrics and regular folk that cross their path is incredibly enjoyable. A great story, wonderfully alive characters and wordplay that is astoundingly well written - what more do I need to say?
Dew on the Kudzu
Camp Redemption combines heart, humor, and an honest irreverence with a touch of mystery as Early and Ivey Willingham's Bible camp becomes the perfect place for a motley crew of lost souls. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Raymond Atkins writes southern fiction at its finest. His laid back tone, quirky yet believable characters, and themes of right and wrong coalesce into the perfect southern story. You always feel as though you've been listening to the well worn and perfectly honed stories of your parents and grandparents, that a slice of history and culture has been well preserved for the next generation. And on top of that? You'll laugh out loud and leave the story with plenty to think about. Camp Redemption is a revelation.
Sally Kilpatrick, HealthyWriter.com
I don’t get how Raymond Atkins does it. Here’s a book that is at once funny and sad and silly and wise. Here’s a book as irreverent as any book can be, hilariously poking holes in the wind-baggery, Bible-thumpery, holy-rollery, cant, hypocrisy, ignorance, and willful narrow-mindedness of organized—and disorganized—religion, and yet, undeniably, through it all, a divine unseen hand is working out its plan through the lives of these flawed, ridiculous, and all-too-human characters. A marvel.
Man Martin, Paradise Dogs
With his usual humor, Atkins creates a landscape rich with history and a cast cast of quirky characters in unusual situations. Funny yet filled with deep thoughts on religion.
Janie Dempsey Watts, Moon Over Taylor's Ridge
Filled with colorful characters and quaint locales (Ivey attends church at the Washed in the Blood and the Fire Rapture Preparation Temple, while Early meets his lawyer at the Jesus is Going Out of Business Diner), Camp Redemption is a gentle comic meditation on the surprising things that can happen when we reach out a hand to those in need.
Tina LoTufo, Chapter 16
If you enjoy reading Southern fiction, check out Camp Redemption by Raymond L. Atkins. It’s about a brother and sister who own a cash-strapped children’s church camp in north Georgia, and one day receive an unexpected visitor. Like a lot of fine Southern writing, this novel has charmingly eccentric characters, a strong appreciation of history, and asks some rather pointed questions about God’s involvement in everyday life. It’s also beautifully written and funny as heck. Stephen Roth, A Plot for Pridemore
Every now and then an author comes along who so vividly portrays a place and its people that you believe you are there with them. Laura Lippman does that with Baltimore, Dennis Lehane does that with Boston, and Raymond Atkins does it with Georgia. All three of his books, The Front Porch Prophet, Sorrow Wood, and now Camp Redemption are set in rural areas of Georgia that reflect the idiosyncrasies of the people who live there. I highly recommend this book. It is so funny in places I laughed out loud and had to share quips with my husband. However, there is much more to it than the humor. It has tender, poignant moments that take your breath away.
Maryann Miller, It's Not All Gravy
Camp Redemption is a fine work of Southern prose. Atkins mixes irreverence with reverence, humor with tragedy to paint a portrait of Southern life that speaks to the universal human condition. Atkins treats his characters with respect and sympathy, yet always maintains a sense of reality. That is the mark of a good writer. The book is an enjoyable read that is entertaining and at the same time makes you think. There is much here about tolerance for those who are different and compassion for those who are in need. Join Atkins on this rollicking ride and he will take you on a journey that you will hate to see come to an end.
Kenneth Studdard, Dogwood Books
Camp Redemption is the best novel yet by award-winning Raymond Atkins, one of the most original new authors in the South today. Atkins is a brilliant writer who captivates the reader with his quirky yet lovable characters. I simply couldn’t stop reading. The book is at once funny, ironic, poignant, tender, and lyrical.
June Hall McCash, Almost to Eden, Plum Orchard
Camp Redemption showcases the best of Raymond Atkins’s talents in Southern fiction: characters who move in with us, for better or worse; a plot that keeps the pages turning; and the stately, elegant prose of a born storyteller. Alternately hilarious, sad, and downright scary, this is Atkin's best novel yet. And the food! The man writes so well about a hot, buttered biscuit that you’ll get fat just reading the words.
Melanie Sumner, The Ghost of Milagro Creek, The School of Beauty and Charm
From the opening sentences of the Introduction to the final poetry of the last two pages, I can’t think of another book that so elegantly captures such a unique vision of the mythical ethos of Appalachia.
Phillip DePoy, December's Thorn, The Tao And The Bard
This book has soul. Raymond Atkins has weaved together layer upon layer of brilliant writing with strands of wisdom and humor, creating a unique texture of plot development guaranteed to satisfy any reader. The story, which takes place in a rural Georgia community, touches contemporary issues of religion, immigration, racism, economic hardship, and domestic violence, through the pitch-perfect Southern cadence of rich dialogue and character development. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book.
Catherine McCall, When the Piano Stops and Never Tell
Raymond L. Atkins once again reflects the South and all its beloved contradictions in his new novel Camp Redemption. Beautifully crafted. His storytelling is an art form only found in the best Southern literature.
Ann Hite, Ghost on Black Mountain
At once smart and funny, Raymond Atkins’s Camp Redemption is a gripping elegantly told tale that will keep you up reading long into the night. All hail a new master of Southern fiction!
Jeffrey Stepakoff, Fireworks over Toccoa
This is one first-rate piece of literature — more American (or even universal) than “Southern” — produced with substantial artistry and gifted craftsmanship with a lovely touch of heart and soul. J.P. Cunningham, Somerset