Country Noir: Ohio by Stephen Markley

I can’t help but think that Ohio would have been a great book if Markley never went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Markley has a lot of talent, and there is a lot of good grist in there—even a real plot!—but Ohio displays all the worst tendencies of literary-minded fiction and it derails the book.

Ohio tells the interweaving stories of four twenty-somethings returning to their small, Rust Belt hometown.  The story is driven as much by who isn’t there as by who is (more on that in a bit).  I picked it up on the strength of Paul’s review at Paul’s Picks and comparisons to Friday Night Lights (in which you may have noticed some interest on my part).  I get Paul’s view and the comparison, but this is a book that falls well short of its potential.

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Music Monday: Michigan Hillbilly Music Edition

I can’t afford to buy half the albums I would like to, but when I realized all of October passed without buying any albums, I knew I had to pick up a couple.  I am just one in a long line of hillbillies who headed up those hillbilly highways to the Rust Belt for work.  With snow maybe on the horizon this weekend, I decided to pick up the—damned good—recently released albums by the Michigan Rattlers and Whitey Morgan, from northern Michigan and Flint, respectively, even if those hillbilly highways took them south.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Books by J.G. Hetherton, David Joy, and Stephen Markley

These three recently released books are deep in the Hillbilly Highways wheelhouse.  Last Girl Gone is set in my home state of North Carolina, a thriller featuring a journalist who returns to the small town she grew up in.  David Joy is walking in the mighty footprints left by Ron Rash, and The Line That Held Us is a tale about one deadly accident setting off a cycle of violence set in my old stomping grounds in the NC mountains.  Ohio is set in, well, Ohio, but I’m a Midwesterner now, and I can’t resist a book that gets compared favorably to Friday Night Lights.

I’ve been crazy busy, but a busy travel month has finally given me some reading time.  I finished Last Girl Gone by J.G. Hetherton and The Line That Held Us by David Joy during my last two trips.  I started Ohio by Stephen Markley on my last trip and should finish it on my next one.  I’m a little iffy on Ohio right now, but Last Girl Gone and The Line That Held Us are solid 4-star books.

You can expect reviews of all three books over the next month or so.  All are out now in one format or another and available at Amazon (click on the cover pics for an affiliate link).

Can’t-Wait Wednesdays is hosted by Wishful Endings.

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