I’ve been saying for a while that we need more stories that fall into the overlap between country noir and speculative fiction. The hollers and dark dirt roads that host country noir yarns have their own rich tradition of myths and folk tales. And speculative elements, perhaps especially horror, dovetail well with the bones of a country noir story—better than, certainly, romance or even mystery. In his novel The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones combines supernatural horror and rez noir (a kissing cousin to country noir). Four young Blackfeet Indians committed some great sin on an elk hunt years ago, and an angry spirit of sorts is looking for bloody restitution.Continue reading “SF: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones”
It is remarkable that it has taken this long to see a novel published by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. That work, Even As We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, is a good’n’.
Cowney Sequoyah is a young Cherokee man. A club foot has saved him from (or robbed him of, depending on the perspective) service in WWII. The dearth of available labor and the need of somewhere to house foreign dignitaries/prisoners gives him the opportunity for good work outside of the Qualla Boundary on the grounds crew at the Grover Park Inn. An initial carpool there brings him into the orbit of Essie Stamper, a beautiful young Cherokee woman working as a maid at the Grove Park for the summer.Continue reading “Country Noir: Even As We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle”
When These Mountains Burn may be David Joy’s best novel yet. Fires are burning across the mountains of North Carolina in late 2016, and wildfire smoke casts a heavy pall over even the unburned areas. More figurative fires are burning as well, with an equally heavy pall cast by the opioid epidemic. Those figurative fires will touch Ray, a mountain of a man, a retired forester, and the father of an addict, and Denny Rattler, an addict himself, a petty thief, and a Cherokee.
(If you heard about these fires on the news, and you probably didn’t, it was likely only when they hit Gatlinburg.)
“The way these mountains have been burning, I knew there was some kind of end coming. I knew it. I just couldn’t see it. I come here to kill you.”
The use of the fires as a literary device is both obvious and effective. Coyotes provide a minor literary device, with Ray ruminating that “he’d watched mountain people and culture be damn near extirpated over the course of a few decades, while those dogs had been persecuted for a century and thrived.”