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Birmingham, 35 Milesby James Braziel
Synopses & Reviews
In this haunting and poignant debut novel, James Braziel tells an unforgettable story of love, family, and survival across a world that has already begun to die.…
When the ozone layer opened and the sun relentlessly scorched the land, there was nothing left but to hope. Mathew Harrison had always heard of a better life as close as Birmingham, only thirty-five miles away—zones of blue sky, wet grass, and clean breathable air. But to him its a myth, a place guarded by soldiers, off limits to all but the lucky few. Meanwhile Mat works alongside his father, mining only the red clay that the once fertile Alabama soil can offer.
Now, with the killing deserts on the move again and the woman he loves on a Greyhound heading north, Mat has a travel visa and every reason to leave. But his roots in this lifeless soil inexplicably hold him firmly to the past. Torn between hope and resignation, with time running out, Mat must make a fateful choice between a new life and the one that isnt ready to let him go.
"Set in a near-future Alabama rendered virtually lifeless by a hole in the ozone layer, Braziel's relentlessly dark debut focuses on Mathew Harrison, a young man who's never known anything but dust storms, heat, the killing sun and a life of migrant labor. Forbidden to move north (the nearby city of Birmingham is closed), Mat, his father and their peers labor in government-run clay mines that may be nothing more than hideously dangerous make-work. Cut off from communication with the so-called Saved World, the undestroyed part of the country, they're treated much like the Okies of the dust bowl era. Grown to adulthood in this soul-destroying environment, Mat nonetheless finds joy in his marriage to a local girl, Jennifer. The young couple are among the favored few who have acquired visas, a way out of the hellhole of the dead South. Poetic, grim and hallucinatory, this harrowing work is not for the faint of heart, though it will appeal strongly to anyone who loved Cormac McCarthy's The Road." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
James Braziels short fiction has appeared in over a dozen literary journals, including the Berkeley Fiction Review and the Chattahoochie Review. His poetry (published as a collection in a book called Weathervane in 2003) has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and he was the recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Cincinnati. Birmingham, 35 Miles is his first novel.
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