cover image One Kind Favor

One Kind Favor

Kevin McIlvoy. WTAW, $18.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-73298-203-1

McIlvoy (At the Gate of All Wonder) attempts a daring if occasionally brittle experimental narrative about the lynching of a 17-year-old Black boy on the day of Trump’s election. The police investigation and subsequent media accounts of Lincoln Lennox’s killing in a predominantly white neighborhood of Cord, N.C., known colloquially as “Crackertown,” play out across a five-day span only to fizzle when the coroner falsely rules the death a suicide. The author conjures a slew of colorful characters and probes below the surface of the killing’s details with an eye for the spiritual and magical: the mysterious, machete-wielding Mr. Panther returns to town to sift through the cover-up; rebellious Acker, an homage to feminist writer Kathy Acker, has ties to Lincoln; and a wide range of spirits, called “Presences,” inhabit the narrative as symbols of powerful white people, such as “The Pope,” the nickname for an infamous and monstrous oligarch who rules over Cord. While the “Presences” can feel a bit diffuse, McIlvoy offers trenchant rhetoric on Americans’ continued battles over ignorance, racism, and divisiveness (“If you call these traitors ‘deplorable’ you have found the right word, haven’t you?” he writes). While this poetically charged look at racial violence clearly accomplishes its aims, it sometimes feels overwrought. (May)