Recently I asked Joy about what he was reading. His reply:
Last time we did this, I gave you a novel, a collection of essays, and a book of poetry, and that’s a tradition I’d like to continue this go ’round, because I think far too often all we hear about are novels. I’m going to trade out a collection of essays for a collection of short stories, but the idea’s the same.Visit David Joy's website.
We’ll start with a novel and I’m going with Steph Post’s Lightwood. If you’re just hearing Steph’s name, you’re late to the party. Her debut novel, A Tree Born Crooked, was absolutely wonderful, and this sophomore effort sets her firmly amongst the list of the best Southern crime writers working today. This is the story of Judah Cannon, a reformed convict just out of prison trying to make a go at the good life with his childhood friend and newly discovered love, but who soon finds himself swirling in a downward spiral of drugs, money, and revenge. Post’s writing shines with breakneck pacing and characters fully fleshed and scarred. She reminds me of a cross between Ace Atkins and Megan Abbott, all that to say: read this novel, read the one that came before, and keep your eyes peeled for what’s coming next.
I recently finished a really great debut collection of stories from a South Carolina writer named Scott Gould. The book doesn’t come out until early June, but it’s called, Strangers to Temptation. This is a series of linked stories narrated by a baseball playing, double dog daring kid doing everything he can to survive adolescence with a mom who probably drinks a little too much Smirnoff and Tang and a quirky father who’s coming to terms with his time in Vietnam. Set in the early 70s in the lowcountry of South Carolina, these stories reminded me of some blend between one of the South’s best storywriters, George Singleton, and that old television show The Wonder Years. This collection is firmly grounded in that long held truth that comedy equals tragedy plus time, these stories will make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, and best of all they’ll make you remember. Definitely worth picking up.
Lastly, one of my favorite poets, a Kentucky writer named Rebecca Gayle Howell, has a new collection that just came out called, American Purgatory. Her last, Render: An Apocalypse, is one of my favorite collections of poetry I’ve ever read so I’m really looking forward to this new one. It won the Sexton Prize for poetry and from the description it’s going to be right up my alley: “[A] dystopia set in a near-future United States marked by severe drought, herbicidal warfare, and a totalitarian climate of poverty…Against this backdrop, three unlikely characters begin a journey that will take them away from work, belief, and even each other…Equal parts Dante and Cormac McCarthy, American Purgatory is a coming-of-age for capitalism written in the decade of tea-party terror.” Now if the mailman would just hurry the hell up and get to my side of the mountain, that’s the book I’ll be reading!
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