Lord the One You Love Is Sick

Kasey Thornton. Ig, $16.95 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-63246-117-9
Thornton’s brutal, moody debut collection crafts a tapestry of hidden secrets and cruel undercurrents in rural Bethany, N.C., revolving around the heroin overdose of troubled 23-year-old Gentry. “I Shall Not Wait” picks up with Gentry’s lifelong best friend, Dale, a cop who abandoned his drug-dependent buddy, whose decline seemed unstoppable, “like a train barreling toward the weak spot in the tracks.” Dale becomes psychologically unmoored by the guilt, while his wife wonders if their marriage will survive. “Valley of the Shadow” follows Gentry’s mother, Nettie, following Gentry’s death. She’s angry and in mourning, left alone with her agoraphobic younger son, Ethan, who’d bonded over video games with Gentry. In “Trespasses,” Ethan finds a new friend in Abigail, a neighbor who’s been sexually abused by her father. More characters unravel with each successive story, which chronicle the deep and sprawling impact made by Gentry’s death as inner lives are exposed, unlikely friendships are forged, and gossipy whispers persist at the local diner. Thornton taps the vernacular, attitudes, and prejudices of small Southern townsfolk with eerie precision. These stories collectively coalesce into a resonant, emotionally searing nexus of hard truths, buried secrets, and emotional pain that readers won’t soon forget. Thornton’s accomplished stories are full of insights on their rural American setting and inhabitants’ psychology. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/08/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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