Synopses & Reviews
Clyde Twitty could use a break, a helping hand. Hes a young man lost in his finances, in his family and stuck deep within the fast-settling muck of a dwindling rural Missouri town that has, in every way, given up hope. The hand that reaches down, pulls him up, and leads him forward is that of Jay Smalls, a fiercely charismatic patriarch, a man who exerts a kind of gravitational force and who breeds purpose in those who get caught in it. Un-rattled by the increasingly sinister racial undertones of Jay Smalls and his posse, and desperate to look forward and not down, for once in his life, Clyde hardly stumbles when the path hes being ushered down takes a dark and irrevocable turn.
In this thrilling debut novel equal parts satire and morality play Harvkey shines a sharp light on the dark and radical underbelly of the floundering American Midwest. As he leads us down the violent spiral of a desperate youth, he explores with unflinching acuity the ugly nature of hate, the untempered force of personality, and the sometimes horrific power of having someone believe in you.
"In his debut novel, former PW deputy reviews editor Harvkey heats incendiary current events to their boiling point, drawing on his own upbringing in meth-ridden northwest Missouri and his black belt in Kyokushin, a form of karate, to examine a young man's life in Winter's Bone territory. Twenty-year-old Clyde Twitty who landed a factory job while still in high school, only to lose it a few years later has a lot on his mind: his gig driving cars to auction brings in only $40 per week; his mother depends on Clyde's support to pay her mortgage and maintain her hairstyling business, and he helps his handicapped uncle as well; and his best friend is in Nashville, a world away from Clyde's hometown of Strasburg, Mo. But Clyde suddenly discovers a sense of purpose when he meets Jay Smalls, a self-styled karate warrior, whose stomach is as hard as his ultra-right-wing political beliefs. Smalls and his family including his daughter, underage seductress Tina make short work of indoctrinating Clyde. Soon his 'training' pulls him into the so-called patriot movement: he attends Aryan conventions, reads literature like The Turner Diaries, and declares himself, in far-right legal parlance, a 'non-resident, non-foreigner stranger to the current state of the forum.' Harvkey skillfully shows how Clyde's conscience gives way to his desire for meaningful work and connections; as they say, idle hands are the devil's workshop. As a conspiracy with nation-rocking potential takes shape, Harvkey pushes this eerie, engrossing satire to its bloody conclusion. It's a provocative, unflinching look at the hate that poverty has fomented in places like Strasburg 'the town the American Dream forgot.' Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for In the Course of Human Events
"This novel examines the feelings of hatred that can be born out of poverty in a raw, unforgiving light." LA Magazine
"Comic timing worthy of the Marx Brothers [...]. Harvkey humanizes a particular strand of extremism in American society."Electric Literature
With this stunning debut, a major new talent bursts upon the world of American Letters. In the Course of Human Events is as brave as it is brilliant, as unsettling as it is important, and unlike anything else Ive read. Mike Harvkey writes scenes of uncommon imagination, characters that leap to life at a single stroke. They will grab you in a bear hug, or by the throat (and sometimes both), and carry you along through a story every bit as gripping. A fearless exploration of an uncomfortable corner of the human heartand an America little examined and even less understoodthis is an important novel. Add to that the fact that it's also so damn funny and here comes one hell of a book.” Josh Weil, author of The New Valley
In the Course of Human Events is a dark, and yet compassionate gaze into the frustrated, violent, and broken heart of America. Mike Harvkey has written a gripping, bold and daring novel unlike any Ive had the pleasure of reading before.”Dinaw Mengestu, MacArthur Genius Fellow and author of How to Read the Air and The Wonderful Things that Heaven Bears
In the Course of Human Events is at once a harrowing descent into the white supremacist underground and a timely portrait of 21st-century American malaise. Mike Harvkey well understands his bleak Midwestern landscape, beaten down by recession, and casts an unflinching eye upon the casual violence and hate-consumed paranoia of the subculture such a hopeless world can nurture.” Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City Is the Place to Be
"In The Course Of Human Events debut novelist Mike Harvkey writes a strong story about contemporary America that delivers and goes the distance. Harvkey fashions a high-explosive fiction out of the shadows of the Oklahoma City bombing and Ruby Ridge. Pain is
information,” a character says. Readers will nod with belief. Booze. Guns. Race-hate. Hard-boiled literary noir is a French favorite, but Harvkey reminds us that stories like this are born, brewed, and bottled in the good old U.S. of A." -Scott Wolven, author of Controlled Burn: Stories Of Prison, Crime, and Men
"In the Course of Human Events is a nightmare revelation: a mid-American apocalypse where your worst fears of coming apart are merely the protagonist's coming-of-age. With prose that kicks harder than a sensei, and a villain that would haunt Tyler Durden's dreams, Mike Harvkey has established himself as a major voice in contemporary fiction. A novel so good it's got to be bad for you."Aaron Gwyn, author of Wynne's War and Dog on the Cross
About the Author
grew up in rural northwest Missouri, near the city of Independence, a crystal meth stronghold long before Breaking Bad
. When he moved to New York in 2001 to attend Columbias Creative Writing MFA Program as a Bingham Fellow, he began training Kyokushin, a brutal form of martial art known for bare-knuckle fighting, and was promoted to black belt in 2006. One of his short stories won Zoetrope All-Story Magazines
short fiction contest; others have been published in Mississippi Review
and Alaska Quarterly Review