Deep in the Ozark Mountains, the Bayne family lives under a curse borne of the civil war and hatred. In every generation of Bayne twins, one has been destined to destroy the father. Middleton uses lush and lyrical writing to create a landscape and atmosphere beautiful and horrific. This is a grand debut that pushes the limits of "Southern Gothic" and delivers a dark and engrossing story of family, love and fate. And there are really creepy demons, too! Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
Somewhere between the edges of grit-lit, horror, fantasy, mystery, domestic drama, and magical realism lies Jarret Middleton's Darkansas.
A seemingly straightforward tale of a family curse, it takes several wide turns and ends up being something so far afield, it's kind of astonishing. Jordan and Malcolm are the last in a long line of Bayne twins to fall under the grip of the curse that has wreaked havoc on their ancestors; in each generation, one of the Bayne twins kills their father.
Middleton's inventive story traces the Bayne family line from the modern day all the way back to the Civil War. Using deliciously unreliable narrators, deeply conflicted characters, and an entrenched emotionality, Middleton writes a book that will leave you feeling absolute wonder at his creativity and a longing for more. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Jordan is a country musician living in the shadow of his father, legendary bluegrass musician Walker Bayne. A man whose made a lifetime of poor decisions, Jordan bounces between San Antonio dive bars, accruing women and drinking himself to the brink of disaster.
When he returns home to the Ozarks for his twin brother’s wedding, Jordan uncovers a dark vein in the Bayne family history: going back to the end of the Civil War, every generation of Bayne men have been twins — and one twin has always murdered their father.
As old tensions resurface and Jordan searches for a way to escape his family’s legacy, a mysterious hill dweller and his grotesque partner stalk the brothers’ every move, determined to see the curse through. Praised by Donald Ray Pollock as "one of the best debuts of the year," Middleton’s debut establishes him as a novelist in good company with Brian Panowich and Smith Henderson, yet in a category all his own.
"Reminiscent of the works of Larry Brown and Rick Bass; richly drawn, refreshing, and authentic.... An innovative literary voice that I look forward to following for decades to come." Nickolas Butler, author of The Hearts of Men
"Gritty, ghostly, poetic, Darkansas is sure to appeal to fans of William Gay and Shirley Jackson. I'd bet a fifth of the top-shelf stuff it will be considered one of the best debuts of the year." Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table and The Devil All The Time
"The devil didn't go down to Georgia, he went to Arkansas, where the Bayne family struggle against Beelzebub's grip on their collective fates. Middleton's debut has it all — sex, song, sadness, and a history as dark and twisted as the Ozark hollers that fill these pages. Holy hell, what a book." Peter Geye, author of Wintering and The Lighthouse Road
About the Author
Jarret Middleton is the editor of Pharos Editions, an imprint of Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. He co-founded and operated Dark Coast Press, an independent publishing house based in Seattle, and has been profiled in Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, The Stranger, and elsewhere. His fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Weeklings, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Collagist, and a number of anthologies. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife.
Jarret Middleton on PowellsBooks.Blog
Whenever I teach a class or a workshop I usually try to include a segment on the shapes of stories...