I am honored to announce that I’ll be reading with two of my favorite contemporary writers at Old Books on Front Street on September 21 at 7 pm. Here’s the lineup:
- Erik Shonkwiler: author of Above All Men and “bastard love child of McCarthy, Hemingway, and Faulkner.” You can read my glowing review of Eric’s novel here.
- Schuler Benson: author of The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide and “the spawn of Chuck Palahniuk and Barry Hannah.” I myself have called him the most “thrilling and fearless voice since Barry Hannah.” You can read my review of Schuler’s book here.
- Taylor Brown: yours truly.
Old Books on Front Street is a Wilmington institution, located at 249 North Front Street in Wilmington, NC.
Recently Sheldon Lee Compton of Bent Country and Revolution John was kind enough to ask me for an interview, which you can read here. If you don’t know SLC, he’s the author of The Same Terrible Storm (Foxhead Books, 2012), nominated for the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Excellence in Appalachian Writing, and Where Alligators Sleep (Foxhead Books, 2014). His novel Brown Bottle comes out in 2015 from Artistically Declined Press. He is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a judge’s selection winner for the Still: JournalFiction Award, a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction, and an associate editor at NightTrain. He’s also a stand-up guy and great interviewer.
My favorite question of the interview:
SLC: Who would you fight – Hunter S. Thompson or Charles Bukowski? Give me a breakdown of how that fight would go.
TB: Well, the wise men say to pick the fight you think you can win, and that would probably be Buk since I’m not bulletproof. But if a metal-detector was involved, I might pick HST just for the hell of it. I think I could better live with myself after being worked over by a high-powered mutant than beating up on old Buk. I’d have to get my sometime office-mate, Peter Maguire, author of Thai Stick and black belt in both jeet kune do and jiu-jitsu, to train me up. HST would definitely have the reach advantage, so I’d have to get inside his hands and bulldog him. If I could do that he might have to watch out. My hope is that whoever won, we’d come out of it sufficiently bloodied and evenly-matched to be friends, and then we could get gloriously drunk and he could squint at me through his purpled eye and tell me about the savage heart of the American Dream and it would be probably the best day of my life.
I don’t usually review the books I read, but when I do it’s a book as good as Eric Shonkwiler’s Above All Men. There is a lot of comparing done these days of writers to Cormac McCarthy, and I find most such comparisons unmerited, to be honest.
Not in this case.
Rarely does a writer achieve heights that seem almost superhuman, that stun me because they’re just so damn good. Eric Shonkwiler does that, and does it with vicious restraint. I will not give you a synopsis; I will give you a passage:
Another bolt of lightning wired down and brightened, disappeared and flickered back. The sky and ground darkened and in the cloud were seams and wrinkles of cobalt that glowed as if the whole thunderhead were alight. The air shook. David took Samuel by the collar and guided him indoors. From inside they could only see the green air bright as neon. The wind bent the trees and the house creaked. Samuel went to look out the window in their bedroom and David followed, Helene behind him, and they watched a black cloud the shape of a slug twist down from the sky and a plume of dust rise to meet it.
I mean, Jesus Christ people. Now combine that with dialogue like this:
He breathed in and stabbed the fork into the meatloaf, let it stand.
Why don’t you stick around for the day?
They said this guy moves around a lot.
Danver’s face pinched. You’re giving me gray hairs.
You’re givin’ someone gray hairs.
Probably myself. I haven’t looked in the mirror lately.
Maybe you should.
The family dynamics are handled exceptionally well, as is the inner strife of the main character, and the images of a dust-ridden Midwest are not to be missed. Above All Men has my highest recommendation. I can’t wait to see what Shonkwiler does next.
Steph Post, author of The Hunter, the Hunted and the Thief (2012) and A Tree Born Crooked (2014, Pandamoon Publishing), was kind enough to interview me about In the Season of Blood and Gold. Steph is one of my favorite bloggers, and she asked some really great questions. We discuss Daniel Woodrell and the “country noir” genre, violence in my work, and how I went about ordering the stories for the collection–among other things. Give it a read if you get a chance, and be sure to keep an eye out for Steph’s new novel, A Tree Born Crooked, coming out this October.
Interview Link: http://stephpostauthor.blogspot.com/2014/05/an-interview-of-blood-and-gold-talking.html
In the Season of Blood and Gold is now available via Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and Press 53. Here’s what Charles Dodd White (A Shelter of Others) has to say about the book:
“With ferocious economy and a great big heart, Taylor Brown writes one of the best debuts I’ve ever picked up. These are stories, verses, meditations, and accusations-everything, in short, you could hope to get from important fiction. This work demands your attention.”
But what if you want a signed copy with a personalized note? Don’t worry, you’re covered. I have a number of author copies available for just this situation. You can order as many as you want via the button below.
I was lucky enough to be interviewed by the lovely Bethany Chafin of Triad Arts Weekend for 88.5 WFDD. You can listen to the segment here. My part starts about 17 minutes in, I think, after the piece on A Band Called Death. Bethany and I discuss the launch of In the Season of Blood and Gold, as well as the influence of music on my writing, my early days of making up stories, why my GI Joes had holes in their heels, and lots of other good stuff.
Taylor Brown’s debut collection of short fiction comes out this Saturday, May 3rd. In the Season of Blood and Gold, published by Press 53, includes twelve stories of dynamic characters and timeless landscapes. From stories of alligator wrestlers, and Confederate soldiers, to a tattooed artist exploring the map to her heart and to her mother’s, the collection is varied and impressive. Writer Charles Dodd has said of the collection, “With ferocious economy and a great big heart, Taylor Brown writes one of the best debuts I’ve ever picked up. These are stories, verses, meditations, and accusations, everything in short you could hope to get from important fiction. This work demands your attention.”
I was honored to learn yesterday morning that my story “World without End” was selected as one of eight finalists for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and judged by Liza Wieland, editor of the North Carolina Literary Review. This story was inspired by the 1976 Oscar-winning documentary Harlan Country, USA, which followed 180 coalminers striking against Duke Power in southeast Kentucky. We all know about Harlan from watching Justified these days, but I would recommend this documentary to anyone who wants to learn the bloody history of this part of the country.
In any case, Liza Wieland had some nice things to say about the story:
“I admired ‘World Without End’ for its dark and beautiful writing about murder and vengeance in a coal-mining community,” Wieland said of Brown’s story. “I am reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s injunction that the use of violence in fiction should never be an end in itself, but should show the qualities in the characters which are least dispensable—in this case loyalty and a deep sense of justice.”
Big congratulations go to Laura Herbst, whose story “The Cliffs of Mobenga” took first place!
The Spring 2014 Issue of Needle Magazine is available now! It features my story “An Unkindness,” as well as work from kick-ass writers like Heath Lowrance, Rob W. Hart, Patti Abbott, Jen Conley, Stephen D. Rogers, Court Merrigan, Sandra Seamans, Trent England, Christopher L. Irvin, William Boyle, William Dylan Powell, and Tom Joyce. And killer cover art!
“An Unkindness” is set during Prohibition, in moonshine country, and grew out of the research I was doing for the latest novel I’ve been working on.
Get your copy here!
SIGNED copies of my debut short story collection, In the Season of Blood and Gold, are now available for pre-order! Here’s what Robert Morgan (The Road from Gap Creek) has to say about the book:
“Almost all Taylor Brown’s stories are family dramas, stories of blood and kinship, betrayal, and conflicted loyalties. Set sometimes in the past, other times in the present or future, and told with verve in a fresh and memorable voice, these stories reward the reader with surprise, authenticity, and the mystery of human connection.”
I’m so honored by these kind words from a true giant of Southern letters. Robert Morgan has published fourteen books of poetry, eight volumes of fiction, and three books of nonfiction. In 2010, he was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, a year in which a special issue of Southern Quarterly was devoted to essays about his work.
You can pre-order your signed copy here: http://www.press53.com/biotaylorbrown.html
I’m excited to announce that my story “Black River” has been accepted for publication by The Baltimore Review. I finished this story last year. It’s actually set on a plantation during the Civil War.
Just want to thank Barbara Westwood Diehl and the rest of the staff for selecting this piece for publication.
Here is the link to the story.