Donald Ray Pollock's newest novel follows three southern brothers heading North to find fame and fortune as bank robbers and an Ohio farmer struggling to support his wife and son after being swindled out of a large sum of money. Their paths will converge in a mix of humor, compassion and violence in this examination of rural society facing radical changes during the turn of the century. His characters exhibit both ruthlessness and hope when faced with a seemingly unjust world. Containing striking imagery, a dark streak of comedy and swift action; this book will sweep you across the unforgiving landscape its characters inhabit. This book is for any fan of Southern Gothic writers, historical fiction or Western films.
I'd never heard of this book or author until it was described to me as a combination of Lovecraft and Borges and I was instantly sold. Giorgio De Maria was a well regarded Italian author and this novel of his written in the 1970s has just been published in English for the first time. Narrated by a resident of Turin investigating unsettling and still unexplained disturbances and murders from 10 years prior, we glimpse an unromanticized version of this Italian city in which government, the church, its citizens and possibly the supernatural are conspiring against the narrator as he unearths what happened during the "twenty days of Turin." De Maria's wonderful prose reveals a city as rich in history as it is in dread. He also anticipates the profound impact of social media and its own terrors nearly 40 years before its existence. Quick, immersive and a pleasure to read, this decades old lost novel has more to say about existence today than one would expect.
Steve Erickson is both criminally underrated and one of my favorite writers - his newest novel continues his streak of writing expansive stories that defy easy categorization. In Shadowbahn, the World Trade Center mysteriously appears overnight in the South Dakota Badlands 20 years after the towers were destroyed, a brother and sister from L.A. drive across the USA where the states are no longer unified, and Elvis Presley's stillborn twin Jesse wakes up in an alternate timeline in which he survived and Elvis died at birth. Shadowbahn is strange and somewhat overwhelming, but in a good way - it's combination of history, fractured timelines, fractured politics, family and the unexplained are tied together through Erickson's love of 20th century music. Incredibly relevant when looking at our own political reality, if you've read Steve Erickson before you know what to expect, and if you haven't then I encourage you to give him a try.