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Praying Drunk: Stories, Questionsby Kyle Minor
A collection of loosely connected stories, musings, and meditations, all weaved together to illustrate the many different paths to overcoming grief and, one way or another, finding grace and healing. I wanted to call up the author afterward and either thank him or curse him out for ruining my day.
Synopses & Reviews
The characters in Praying Drunk speak in tongues, torture their classmates, fall in love, hunt for immortality, abandon their children, keep machetes beneath passenger seats, and collect porcelain figurines. A man crushes pills on the bathroom counter while his son watches from the hallway; missionaries clumsily navigate an uprising with barbed wire and broken glass; a boy disparages memorized scripture, facedown on the asphalt, as he fails to fend off his bully. From Kentucky to Florida to Haiti, these seemingly disparate lives are woven together within a series of nested repetitions, enacting the struggle to remain physically and spiritually alive throughout the untamable turbulence of their worlds. In a masterful blend of fiction, autobiography, and surrealism, Kyle Minor shows us that the space between fearlessness and terror is often very small. Long before Praying Drunk reaches its plaintive, pitch-perfect end, Minor establishes himself again and again as one of the most talented younger writers in America.
"Similar to a great magic trick, the 13 stories in Minor's (In the Devil's Territory) latest lure reader investment with strong visuals while simultaneously pulling the rug out from underfoot with clever, literary sleights — of-hand. Though not necessarily linked in the traditional sense, there is a sequential order to the collection — ideas, locations, incidents, and characters echo as the volume chugs forward — and the result is an often dazzling, emotional, funny, captivating puzzle. At the heart of the book are the Haitian tales 'Seven Stories About Sebastian of Koulèv-Ville' and 'In a Distant Country.' Set within the same village, though separated by decades, the narratives follow the lives of missionaries and the natives they look to aid during the Duvalier dictatorship and after the 2010 earthquake. The ideas of trust and faith run deep, and these emotions bleed throughout the collection, particularly in the narratives concerning a character akin to the author, who frets over his musician brother (in 'There Is Nothing but Sadness in Nashville'), his dying grandfather (in 'First, the Teeth'), and his own convictions (in 'You Shall Go Out with Joy and Be Led Forth with Peace' and its companion, 'Suspended'). Minor's continuous play with form keeps the book fresh, despite a somewhat distracting presentation. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kyle Minor wants you to know that Praying Drunk is not actually, or only, a collection. In the epigraph, he warns: 'These stories are meant to be read in order. This is a book, not just a collection. DON'T SKIP AROUND.' Minor is right to insist. The stories may span decades as they move from Kentucky to Haiti and points between, but they work in concert to slowly reveal the landscape of an emotionally desolate quasi-America sinking under the weight of its own faith....Minor writes beautifully about these ruined lives.” New York Times Book Review
An award-winning short fiction author offers twelve stories so ripe with realism as to suggest a roman à clef....This brilliant collection unfolds around a fractured narrative of faith and friends and family, loved and lost.” Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
The collections masterpiece, the novella In a Distant Country,” works in epistolary style through a wide array of correspondents. All are connected somehow to a troubled Baptist mission in Haiti, and their community portrait, thanks to Minors ventriloquism, achieves tragic stature...[a] grim yet terrific collection.” Boston Globe
As a jealous and deeply insecure writer, I wish I didn't have to report that these stories are enviably brilliant. But sadly, this is the fact of the matter. Kyle Minor has elevated the short story collection for me.” LA Review of Books
Masterfully blended fiction and autobiography explores the lives of missionaries, drug addicts, and childhood bullies in Kentucky, Florida, and Haiti.
About the Author
Kyle Minor is the winner of the 2012 Iowa Review Prize for Short Fiction, the Tara M. Kroger Prize for Short Fiction, and the author of In Devil's Territory (Dzanc Books, 2008). He is also a three-time honoree in the annual Atlantic Monthly writing contest, and was named one of Random Houses Best New Voices of 2006. His work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Iowa Review, Salon.com, Best American Mystery Stories 2008, Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers, and Forty Stories: New Voices from Harper Perennial.
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