cover image Ghosting


Kirby Gann. Ig Publishing (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (286p) ISBN 978-1-935439-47-9

Gann’s newest novel (after Our Napoleon in Rags) is a tightly written Appalachian gothic told from multiple perspectives. The story concerns Cole and his brother, Fleece, who—along with an enormous amount of marijuana belonging to a dying elderly drug dealer known as Mister Greuel—has gone missing. After discovering Fleece’s torched car—but no Fleece—Cole descends into Kentucky’s criminal underworld in an attempt to locate his brother. Along the way, he is alternately helped and hindered by Shady Beck, Fleece’s gray-eyed, weed-loving, former girlfriend, and Blue Note, Greuel’s violent, blue-skinned partner in crime. The book is concerned not only with a missing man but also with how these outcasts eke out a living amid economic ruin, wherein conservative churches still conjure the gall to peddle a gospel of prosperity. Despite occasionally cartoonish monikers (e.g., Boonie Ed or Spunk), the characters are fully realized—rooted in the land and veined with bad blood—and their motivations are complex and believable. Violent, bloody, and darkly beautiful, this is a fascinating novel depicting the seedy bottom of an America in decline. (Apr.)