Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky

David Connerley Nahm. Two Dollar Radio (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-937512-20-0
Leah Shepherd leads a quiet life, runs a nonprofit organization for victims of domestic violence, and generally keeps to herself in Nahm’s intriguing debut novel. But she is haunted by her past. Leah’s younger brother, Jacob, disappeared when they were both children, and his absence has defined her entire existence. While Leah struggles to keep her clients safe from abusive husbands, flashbacks of her recent past are revealed—including a broken engagement, and an inheritance from an older woman whose family accused Leah of manipulating her in order to get into the will. At every turn, the world proves itself bitter, or worse, and the inhospitable Kentucky landscape of old farms, old churches, and new poverty adds to the tone of despondency. The story moves constantly between past and present, often from one paragraph to the next, creating a nonlinear sense of time, in which Leah’s memories are both more fluid and more urgent than her day-to-day adult life of meetings and grant applications. The disjointed narrative sometimes becomes too overwhelming and too restless to keep up with, but Nahm has braided these chronologies together artfully, and the persistent shifting reflects an honest representation of Leah’s mind-set. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/07/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
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