The Bible Salesman Contest and Reading Group Guide

Posted 23 September, 2009 by Molly(Cover To Cover Cafe) in Book Reviews / 45 Comments

Okay followers and friends of followers! I have my very first giveaway for 5 copies of The Bible Salesman thanks to Valerie over at Hachette Book Group!
About the author:
Clyde Edgerton was born in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of eight previous novels, including, Walking Across Egypt and Lunch at the Piccadilly. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and five of his novels have been New York Times Notable Books. Edgerton teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is a member of the Fellowship of Souther Writers. He lives in Wilmington with his wife, Kristina, and their children.
About the book:
Preston Clearwater has been a criminal since stealing two chain saws and 1,600 pairs of aviator sunglasses from the army during the Second World War. Back on the road in postwar North Carolina, now a member of a car-theft ring, he picks up hitchhiking Henry Dampier, an innocent twenty-year-old Bible salesman. Clearwater immediately recognizes Henry as smart but gullible, just the associate he needs–one who will believe Clearwater is working undercover for the F.B.I.; one who will drive the cars Clearwater steals as Clearwater follows along in his own car at a safe distance. Henry joyfully sees a chance to lead a dual life as a Bible salesman and a G-man.During his hilarious and scary adventures, Henry grapples with doubts about the Bible’s accuracy, and we learn of his fundamentalist upbringing, an upbringing that doesn’t prepared him for his new life. As he falls in love with the captivating Marleen Green and questions his religious training, Henry begins to see he’s being used–that he is on his own in a way he never imagined.

1. Henry sells free Bibles he receives from Bible societies across the country, which he has requested under less-than honest pretenses. Discuss how Henry reconciles his actions with his sense of morality. Does he feel that his actions are acceptable? Do you?

2. From the moment Henry and Preston meet, Henry’s innocence contrasts with the older man’s manipulativeness. Discuss the relationship between these men. How does Henry’s naïveté ultimately allow him to upset Preston’s plans for him? In what ways are the two men similar?

3. Henry’s family is charitable (sending blankets to Yancy), but their church is sometimes harsh (warning the child Henry about being a blasphemer). How does Henry’s uncle Jack help him navigate these contradictions?

4. How do the elderly, especially women, contribute to the comic scenes in The Bible Salesman? Does their unworldliness add to their being funny? Are they similar to Henry in this respect?

5. The biblical characters Abraham, his wife, Sarah, and his mistress, Hagar, intrigue and puzzle Henry. Does his knowing their story make it easier for him to accept his attraction to Marleen Green?

6. Henry’s childhood is revealed gradually in The Bible Salesman, as are the numerous forces that shaped his Christianity — Aunt Dorie, the Bible salesman instructor, and Henry’s church, just to name a few. To what extent does each influence how Henry approaches his faith? How do his beliefs change in the course of the novel?

7. Although Preston initially views Henry as a gullible boy, he eventually realizes that Henry is not as clueless as he thought. How do you see Henry? Did your opinion change as you read? Why and in what ways?

8. Henry’s beloved uncle Jack is ejected from a surfside club as “white trash.” Clearwater feels justified in burglarizing a plantation house owned by rich northerners in Florida. Does class conflict lead to the doctor’s death in Drain, Georgia? Or is Clearwater’s character the sole culprit?

9. In what ways does Henry mature from a child to an adult in the course of the novel? How is he still like a boy at the end? What characters and events infl uence Henry’s growth? Do you think it is possible to maintain a positive outlook such as his in the face of the trials of adulthood?

10. Henry and Preston’s journey through the South is the focus of the novel, but the two men travel in other ways as well. How does movement, in both the physical and psychological sense, cause the characters to change? Do you think Henry would be the man he has become at the end of the novel had he not partnered with Preston?

11. Family reunions play a big part in Henry’s early life. How does the extended family unify the disparate personalities and bloodlines in The Bible Salesman? Does it assuage the facts that Henry’s parents are absent and that his sister’s son looks nothing like his brother-in-law?

12. Did The Bible Salesman inspire you to compare parts of the Hebrew Bible to the King James Version and the Chicago Bible? If so, what differences in interpretations of the text did you find interesting?


  • Open to US and Canada Residents ONLY
  • No PO Boxes
  • All entries MUST be separate and MUST include your email in the form of: yourname (at)domain (dot)com (*eliminates spam)
  • Entries must be in by 6pm EST on October 3rd.

+1 entry for following my blog(tell me how, either through google friend connect or Networked Blogs)
+2 entries for referring a friend to follow my blog (your friend must tell me how they follow AND mention your name
+1 entry if you repost this the link to this contest somewhere (twitter, blogspot, facebook, etc) and send me the link
+1 entry for leaving a comment

Good luck!!!!



45 responses to “The Bible Salesman Contest and Reading Group Guide

  1. Vicki

    Hi~ I just wanted to let you know that I tried clicking on your blog link to come to this blog from your Book Blog profile and it said “Blog not found” so I looked at the link and the “L” is missing. It says BUUKVR81.

  2. Amanda

    This is Amanda! I want to enter your contest. 🙂
    I follow your blog, I think through yahoo? (That’s how I signed up, anyhow.)

  3. Margie

    I’m new to blogging but I am following you through Facebook Networked Blogs. My e-mail is tiggert43@yahoo(dot)com

  4. Emily

    Hey Molly,
    Congrats on being able to do your very first book giveaway!!!! I’m so happy for you.

    EmReilly303 @

  5. Anonymous

    Thanks 4 the invitation,Molly..I am new at this blogging thing.Please enter my name in the contest..thanks a lot!


  6. Amanda

    Let’s try again.
    I’d like to be entered for being a follower through yahoo. My e-mail is mom2ljh @

  7. Glenn

    I’d like to drop my name in the virtual hat – thanks for the giveaway.

    glenn_pessano AT yahoo DOT com

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