Growing up Dead in Texas

Stephen Graham Jones. MP Publishing (www.mppublishingusa.com), $14.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-84982-154-4
Jones combines memoir and mystery in his latest novel (after Zombie Bake-Off), returning to his hometown of Greenwood, Texas, to explore a decades-old crime that would rend a community irrevocably asunder. In 1985, when the author is just 12 years old, a suspicious fire decimates Greenwood's cotton crop and threatens many of the townsfolk's livelihoods. Local teen Tommy Moore is caught in the field with an incriminatingly lit cigarette, and his savage beating by a descendant of the community's largest landowning family kicks off a tragic cycle of retribution that exacerbates longstanding conflicts amongst the people of Greenwood. Drawing from memory, interviews, and town legend, Jones acknowledges that he's an unreliable narrator, and that his story is "piecemeal, secondhand, polluted, cleaned-up then tore down." The book is an ambitious hybrid of fact and myth, past and present, that calls into question the nature of truth itself. While its sprawling web of characters and story lines may seem convoluted at times, the novel is unified by Jones's rhythmic prose and his evident compassion for his former neighbors' tragedies—both personal and pastoral. (June)
Reviewed on: 09/03/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 158 pages - 978-1-84982-227-5
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