Mysterious Book Report No. 65

One of the best things about being a reviewer is never knowing what’s going to turn up next.  One of the worst things about being a reviewer is bumping up against a deadline and being unprepared . . . or even kind of unprepared . . . like today.  I’ve read the book, but haven’t written the review and, just like Alice’s white rabbit, “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.  No time to say hello goodbye I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.” Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland pushed the limits of literature when it was first published in 1865 and compared to the effusive, flowery and formalized style of writing so prevalent at the time, Alice, with it’s drug-induced imagery and cast of outrageous characters must have seemed like a bolt of lightning from MountOlympus.

We can’t say it’s as dramatic as a lightning bolt, but this week’s Mysterious Book Report is also pushing the envelope of literature into new, unknown areas.

Ghosting, (IG Publishing, PBK, $15.95, 286 pages, ISBN 978-193543947-9) by Kirby Gann is a new genre loosely termed “southern noir.”  Noir, as regular readers of the MBR know, is dark, gloomy and generally concerns the troubled members of society, the outsiders, outlaws and outlandish ones among us . . . many of whom are involved in all types of criminal activity.  Traditionally, noir stories take place in cities, but an increasing number of them are plotted and happen in the rural south: southern noir.

Ghosting is all about drugs; the use of, growing of, transporting of, the dealing, selling and control of drugs within defined geographic areas . . . in this case Pirtle County, Kentucky.  In place of the usual collection of hip, inner-city characters, we’re introduced to a motley and sinister bunch of white southern rednecks engaged in organized crime.  The group is controlled by Lawrence Greuel, who is dying, while his empire is being siphoned away by his partner, a ruthless sociopath named Arley Noe.

As the novel begins, Fleece Skaggs and Mister Greuel’s entire marijuana harvest for the year has gone missing; his younger half-brother Cole decides to take Fleeces place as a drug-runner, to try to find out what became of him, while their pill-addicted mother Lyda glides through the story looking for her next bottle of prescription pain-killers.  Ghosting is a moody, atmospheric novel with some of the same best lyrical prose I’ve read in some time . . . and one of the most graphically vicious scenes I’ve ever read.  Every page brought a new twist, or new surprise.  If you want to read something new and different, it’s for you.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Have you enjoyed the benefits of your hometown library lately?  It’s the place to go for free fun and infinite things to learn and do.  Try reading as a self-improvement project; it’ll make you feel really good about yourself.

I hope you’ve visited my website by now.

johndwainemckenna.com

It’s where you’ll find all the Mysterious Book Reports, suggestions for reading, the BS and Donkey Dust Blog, information about The Neversink Chronicles, and my new hot-off-the-press novella entitled The Whim-Wham Man; a coming of age and murder-mystery, as well as Rhyolite’s next publication, The Drift, an environmental thriller by their newest writer, Bert Entwistle.  The Neversink Chronicles are available in signed first-editions at Cannie D’s in Neversink, the Time and the Valleys Museum store in Grahamsville, the Little Store in Roscoe and now at Peter’s Market in Napanoch . . .  while they last.

Hope everyone had fun at the Little World’s Fair, rain-schmain, we’re talking 100 plus years!  Are you reading something great?  Let me know . . . I’ll let everyone know.  I’ll see you next week with another MBR.

–JDM