Country Dark

Chris Offutt. Grove, $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2779-2
Offutt’s exceptional new novel (following his memoir My Father, the Pornographer) brings to light with gritty, heartfelt precision what one character, a social worker, calls the “two Kentuckys, east and west, dirt and blacktop.” The book follows Tucker, Kentucky-born and -raised, as he returns home in 1954, a teenager fresh out of the Korean War. On his way, Tucker saves a 14-year-old girl, Rhonda, from being raped by her uncle. Tucker and Rhonda soon marry and set up house in his family’s old cabin while Tucker finds work running moonshine across state lines. A decade later, Rhonda has had two miscarriages, as well as given birth to a hydrocephalic boy who wasn’t expected to survive infancy, two baby girls who lie listless in some mysterious sedation, and one healthy girl named Jo. While Rhonda and Tucker hope God has a plan, “Rhonda couldn’t see what this plan was other than a punishment. She loved the babies... but they were too bad off to love her back.” This hard living drives the narrative, each heartbreak matched only by Tucker’s steadfast determination to do right by his family. Offutt’s prose cuts deep and sharp, but Tucker and Rhonda remain somewhat mechanical, despite the nuance of the language used to describe them. The novel, however, is an undeniable testament to the importance and clarity of Offutt’s voice in contemporary American literature. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-5087-6
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8021-2933-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-4100-6
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-8021-4616-8
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