This week’s feature is Miracle Boy and Other Stories, by Pinckney Benedict. Published this year by Press 53, the collection features a misfit cast of characters from the mountains of West Virginia. Known by names like “Lizard” and “mudman,” their very out-thereness commands the respect of reader. These backwoods folk may be wildly different from your friends and neighbors, but Benedict makes them impossible to ignore or dismiss, so vividly drawn they refuse easy definitions. Benedict is the author of two previous story collections, Town Smokes and The Wrecking Yard, and a novel, Dogs of God. Miracle Boy has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award.
In his review of Miracle Boy for Fiction Writers Review, contributor Shawn Andrew Mitchell describes the experience of Benedict leading a workshop as “Gordon Lish with a pair of revolvers blasting away as he straddles a rocket careening toward Mars.” Drawing parallels to Flannery O’Connor’s Christ-haunted South, Mitchell finds the Appalachia of Miracle Boy equally bracing:
As Elizabeth Strout says in her cover blurb: there’s “not a story here that is not the real thing.” … [Benedict] grew up in the mountains of southern West Virginia, and his fiction has always mined that region and the writing of those who have worked the Appalachian vein before him, such as Breece D’J Pancake. This latest collection continues in that tradition, filtering universal myth through the regional zone for profound results. The stories therein floor, move, shock, awe, amuse, and amaze. They contain revelation and redemption, hellfire and hail, strange happenings and mythological beasts. They’re Raymond Carver hopped up on Borges, Tobias Wolff strung out on Lovecraft, Chris Offutt drunk on Poe. There’s an apocalypse in every box.
- To read the rest of Andrew Shawn Mitchell’s review, please click here.
- For more about Pinckney Benedict, and the new collection, visit Press 53.
- Read Benedict’s short story “Bridge of Sighs” from Zoetrope: All Story, Vol. 11, No. 2.
- You can also win one of three signed copies of this book, which we’ll be giving away next week to three of our Twitter followers.
To be eligible for this giveaway (and all future ones), simply click over to Twitter and “follow” us (@fictionwriters).
To all of you who are already fans, thank you!