BruceHolbert-bwThere’s a high body count in your books.  Why?

Life’s cheap here in the Inland Empire.

 

John Berryman once said: It is time to see the frontiers as they are, Fiction, but a fiction meaning blood… Do you agree?

He killed Butch Cassidy with a metaphor, didn’t he?  I guess he would know then.

Small town living is always the same, whether it’s in Arkansas, Idaho, or Missouri. Built on the backs of linked story collections like Winesboro, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock, Volt (Graywolf Press) by Alan Heathcock follows the lives of a handful of lost souls, tragedy washing over them like a great flood, people with names like Winslow, and Jorgen, and Vernon. In the fictional town of Krafton, we see what people do when living out in the woods, close to nature. When there’s nothing to do, they make their own fun, picking fights over nothing, running through cornfields, tipping over cows. In a small town, everybody knows everybody, and gets in their business, sometimes to help, and sometimes to enable their own survival.

Once Stephen Graham Jones has you, once you’re invested, and want to see what’s going to happen next, that’s when he elevates his game. He’s one of those rare authors (like Brian Evenson, William Gay and Cormac McCarthy) that can write, and publish, and exist in two worlds: the land of genre fiction, with the horrific, the fantastic; and also the high towers of the academic, the language and focus raised to a literary intelligence, the lyrical voice an evolution, the poetic unfurling of the land and emotion beyond the typical read. Jones can publish in the dark recesses of Cemetery Dance and Asimov’s just as easily as the literary landscape of Black Warrior Review and Southeast Review, or the contemporary hotbeds of Juked and Hobart.