William Gay's Detective Novel

It's being released soon, accord­ing to the William Gay Archive and I think many of you will be inter­est­ed. Here's the description.

John Stoneb­urn­er, a jad­ed detec­tive, has aban­doned his office in Mem­phis to live on the banks of the Ten­nessee Riv­er. There he meets retired sher­iff, Cap Hold­er, who made a small for­tune after Hol­ly­wood pro­duced a movie based on his exploits clean­ing up the drug deal­ers in his rur­al coun­ty. Hold­er hires Stoneb­urn­er to hunt down his young girl­friend and a suit­case full of drug mon­ey after they dis­ap­peared at the same time. The inves­ti­ga­tion brings Stoneb­urn­er in con­tact with a fig­ure from his youth, Thi­bodeaux, now an unpre­dictable town drunk. Enslaved to their past indeed, the inter­twined tra­jec­to­ries and motives of Stoneb­urn­er, Hold­er, Thi­bodeaux and the young woman even­tu­al­ly col­lide in a crazed chase across Ten­nessee, Mis­sis­sip­pi, Alaba­ma, and Arkansas.

It's out of stock at Ama­zon right now because of last-minute changes, I've heard, but will be avail­able again soon.

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Southernmost, by Silas House

I've been look­ing for­ward to a new Silas House nov­el for years now. I've fol­lowed his career since I pub­lished his work in Night Train, and was extreme­ly proud to have his blurb for my col­lec­tion Most­ly Red­neck. His nov­els reveal the best of Appalachia, the pow­er of fam­i­ly, and most of all a rev­er­ence for music and the nat­ur­al world that con­tin­ues to make me feel good when I reread them, which I do every few years. Like Chris Offutt and Chris Hol­brook and Lee Smith and Breece Pan­cake, he writes a world and peo­ple I rec­og­nize in my bones, though the accent's a lit­tle dif­fer­ent where I grew up in the very north­ern tip of Appalachia. Algonquin's pro­mo mate­r­i­al for the new Silas nov­el South­ern­most fol­lows, and I encour­age you all to check it out when it comes out in June.

When a flood wash­es away much of a small com­mu­ni­ty along the Cum­ber­land Riv­er in Ten­nessee, Ash­er Sharp, an evan­gel­i­cal preach­er there, starts to see his life anew. He has already lost a broth­er due to his inabil­i­ty to embrace his brother’s com­ing out of the clos­et. Now, in the after­math of the flood, he tries to offer shel­ter to two gay men, but he’s met with resis­tance by his wife. Furi­ous about her prej­u­dice, Ash­er deliv­ers a ser­mon where he pas­sion­ate­ly defends the right of gay peo­ple to exist with­out condemnation.

In the heat­ed bat­tle that ensues, Ash­er los­es his job, his wife, and cus­tody of his son, Justin. As Ash­er wor­ries over what will become of the boy, whom his wife is deter­mined to con­trol, he decides to kid­nap Justin and take him to Key West, where he sus­pects that his estranged broth­er is now liv­ing. It’s there that Ash­er and Justin see a new way of think­ing and loving.

South­ern­most is a ten­der and heart­break­ing nov­el about love and its con­se­quences, both with­in the South and beyond.


"In Silas House’s mov­ing new nov­el, a pas­tor wres­tles with a cri­sis not just of faith but of all the appar­ent cer­tain­ties of his life: a cri­sis of mar­riage, of com­mu­ni­ty, of father­hood. This is a nov­el of painful, final­ly rev­e­la­to­ry awak­en­ing, of fierce love and nec­es­sary dis­as­ter, of the brav­ery required to escape the prison of our days, to make a bet­ter and more wor­thy life.”—Garth Green­well, author of What Belongs to You

This beau­ti­ful­ly craft­ed nov­el brims with a spir­it of hope­ful human­i­ty as one man’s effort to make him­self a bet­ter per­son casts rip­ples in the world around him."
—Charles Fra­zier, author of Vari­na

South­ern­most engages my most deeply hid­den fears and hopes. Silas House has all the gifts of a pas­sion­ate sto­ry­teller, and to this book he adds the heart­felt con­vic­tions of a man will­ing to voice what we so sel­dom see in print—the ways in which with all good inten­tions we can mess up and go wrong, and only lat­er try to sort out how we can win our own redemp­tion. I love this book, and for it, I love Silas House.”
—Dorothy Alli­son, author of Bas­tard Out of Carolina

A spir­i­tu­al jour­ney, a love sto­ry, and a clas­sic road nov­el … With its themes of accep­tance and equal­i­ty, South­ern­most holds a spe­cial mean­ing for Amer­i­ca right now, with rel­e­vance even beyond its mem­o­rable story.”
—Lee Smith, author of Dime­store

Silas House's char­ac­ters are as real to me as my own fam­i­ly. South­ern­most is a nov­el for our time, a coura­geous and nec­es­sary book."
—Jen­nifer Haigh, author of Heat and Light

South­ern­most is an emo­tion­al tsuna­mi. The clas­sic themes of great lit­er­a­ture writ­ten about fam­i­ly life are upend­ed here in a mod­ern twist as a father and son flee one life in search of anoth­er; as estranged broth­ers sep­a­rat­ed by time and their judge­ment of one anoth­er seek redemp­tion and through the women in their lives, antag­o­nists in the strug­gle who become grace notes on the road to redemp­tion. This is a sto­ry of faith lost and love found, and what we must throw over­board on the jour­ney in order to keep mov­ing. A treasure."
—Adri­ana Tri­giani, author of Kiss Car­lo

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Governor Seeks to Kill University Press of Kentucky?

Please don't let this hap­pen.  From Scott Jaschik at Inside High­er Ed.

Ken­tucky gov­er­nor Matt Bevin has pro­posed that some 70 small pro­grams in the state bud­get be com­plete­ly elim­i­nat­ed — as he also has pro­posed across-the-board cuts of around 6 per­cent for pub­lic high­er edu­ca­tion and most oth­er state functions.

Bevin, a Repub­li­can, has cit­ed tight state bud­gets and has not spo­ken on spe­cif­ic pro­grams he would elim­i­nate. But word spread this week­end that one of his tar­gets was the Uni­ver­si­ty Press of Ken­tucky, and many authors and schol­ars have react­ed with alarm.

While the press is based at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ken­tucky, it is not affil­i­at­ed with that insti­tu­tion alone. Rather, it works with all the state's pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties as well as a num­ber of pri­vate col­leges, include Bel­larmine Uni­ver­si­ty and Berea and Cen­tre Col­leges. The press pub­lish­es more than 50 books a year and is con­sid­ered par­tic­u­lar­ly strong in schol­ar­ship on the state, in Civ­il War and oth­er mil­i­tary his­to­ry, and in vol­umes that relate to the his­to­ry and cul­ture of Appalachia.

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Quick Hits–Paul D. Brazill

This post intro­duces some­thing I hope will become a fea­ture here at Fried Chick­en and Cof­fee, quick inter­views with writ­ers in the crime or rural/Appalachian fic­tion scenes, and short takes on what­ev­er writ­ers I'm obsessed with at the moment. First on this list is Paul D. Brazill, whose work I've known of for some time via Twit­ter and oth­er places. His 2012 arti­cle Brit Grit intro­duced me to a num­ber of new writ­ers on the oth­er side of the pond, and I've asked him just a a few ques­tions here, not want­i­ng to take up too much of his valu­able writ­ing and teach­ing time.

Paul D. Brazill's books include A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brix­ton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in Eng­land and lives in Poland. His writ­ing has been trans­lat­ed into Ital­ian, Ger­man and Slovene. He has had stuff pub­lished in var­i­ous mag­a­zines and antholo­gies, includ­ing The Mam­moth Books of Best British Crime

In your 2012 Brit Grit blog post, you ref­er­ence Ted Lewis as the father of the move­ment. In what ways do you see his lin­eage in today's crop of writers?

I think it’s in the tim­bre of the writ­ing — peo­ple like Ray Banks, Char­lie Williams and Allan Guthrie, for exam­ple, have a strong sense of the absurd. The ridicu­lous­ness of every­day life. There is also a real focus on char­ac­ter – minor char­ac­ters, the set­tings, the dia­logue, are all well-drawn. 

I’ve said before that I think the dif­fer­ence between crime fic­tion and noir is that crime fic­tion is about bring­ing order to chaos and noir is about bring­ing chaos to order. Or even mak­ing the chaot­ic more so!

So, Brit Grit is clos­er to noir, I think, since even the most real­is­tic police pro­ce­dur­al is still a pater­nal pat on the head. 

You men­tion Gareth Spark and Paul Heat­ley as two cur­rent exem­plars. Which books of theirs do you rec­om­mend? Would you name some oth­er small press prac­ti­tion­ers who should be bet­ter known?

Marwick’s Reck­on­ing by Gareth Spark and An Eye For An Eye by Paul Heat­ley are both great and are pub­lished by Near To The Knuck­le who have also pub­lished Ian Ayris’ bril­liant One Day In The Life Of Jason Dean. All three books are rich­ly writ­ten. Full of light and shade. Also, check out Mar­tin Stan­ley, Robert Cow­an, Tom Leins, Aidan Thorn, LA Sykes, Julie Mor­ri­g­an. There are plen­ty of oth­ers too!

Where would you place your own work in the Brit Grit spec­trum? Who do you look up to?

I’m the light relief. The court jester. A tad bit­ter­sweet, maybe, but I write to enter­tain. The Brit Grit writ­ers I’ve took most from are prob­a­bly Char­lie Williams and Tony Black’s Gus Dury books.

What books are you most look­ing for­ward to in 2018?

I’m just keep­ing a beady, bleary eye out but any­thing by the above writers.

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Ernest Matthew Mickler's White Trash Cooking

by  Michael Adno/Bitter Southerner

In the 1980s, some folks wrote off Ernie Mick­ler, author of “White Trash Cook­ing,” as a yay­hoo curios­i­ty. Oth­ers thought him one of the most bril­liant South­ern folk­lorists and pho­tog­ra­phers of the 20th cen­tu­ry. But per­haps most impor­tant­ly, Mick­ler left behind a tes­ta­ment to the fact that all South­ern­ers — even those at the mar­gins — have a right to claim their roots.

In spring of 1986, Ernest “Ernie” Matthew Mickler’s “White Trash Cook­ing” land­ed on book­shelves across Amer­i­ca — a 160-page, spi­ral-bound anthol­o­gy of South­ern recipes, sto­ries, and photographs. 

Odd­ly enough, damned near every­one loved it. It was imme­di­ate­ly revered by lit­er­ary snobs, South­ern aris­to­crats, Yan­kees, folk­lorists, down-home folk, and peo­ple on either side of the Mason-Dixon.

The book stirred a firestorm of pub­lic­i­ty — part­ly seri­ous, part­ly tongue-in-cheek — land­ing Ernie on “Late Night With David Let­ter­man” and Nation­al Pub­lic Radio, in mag­a­zines like Vogue and Peo­ple, and in a litany of news­pa­pers. In The New York Times, crit­ic Bryan Miller deemed “White Trash Cook­ing” the “most intrigu­ing book of the 1986 spring cook­book sea­son.” Even the grand dame of South­ern lit­er­a­ture, Harp­er Lee, claimed she had “nev­er seen a soci­o­log­i­cal doc­u­ment of such beau­ty  —  the pho­tographs alone are shat­ter­ing.” She called the book “a beau­ti­ful tes­ta­ment to a stub­born peo­ple of proud and poignant heritage.”


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January Sale Down & Out Books

My pub­lish­er, Shot­gun Hon­ey, oper­ates under the umbrel­la of Down & Out Books. D&O is run­ning a 99-cent sale on two ebooks, for a lim­it­ed time only. D&O has estab­lished itself as a clear­ing­house for great crime fic­tion in all its iter­a­tions and I knew that before I came to be part of the fam­i­ly, so you can trust me on these. Vis­it the links below the blurbs to check out the sale.

The demons that dri­ve John “Mocha” Moc­cia to obsess, to put absolute­ly every­one under a micro­scope, and scratch away at every last clue, make him the best hard­nosed detec­tive in Brook­lyn homi­cide. But these same demons may very well write the final chap­ter in his career.

He isn’t the kind of detec­tive to take no for an answer, but in his most recent case answers are damn hard to come by. Part­nered with the con­sci­en­tious Detec­tive Matt Winslow, Mocha endeav­ors to solve the mur­der of the wealthy and beau­ti­ful Jes­si­ca Shan­non, a woman who had every rea­son to live.

As Mocha and Winslow strive to push for­ward the hands of time and solve the mur­der, their impos­ing lieu­tenant breathes down their necks, sus­pects are scarce, and all of the evi­dence seems to be a dead end.

With the last pre­cious grains of sand falling through the hour­glass, Mocha push­es ever for­ward, deter­mined to make an arrest, even if it means this col­lar will be his last.



There are sev­en of them. Children—innocents—whose long-buried remains are uncov­ered by a flash-flood. No one knows who could have com­mit­ted such a crime. Clues are scarce, and with the media turn­ing the sto­ry into a law enforce­ment night­mare, time is short. Only Wil Hard­esty, a pri­vate eye who has more in com­mon with the case than any­one knows, is will­ing to push hard enough—and dig deep enough—to find the cru­elest of killers. The killer of The Innocents …



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Forthcoming from Chris Offutt: Country Dark

This­April 2018 book by Chris Offutt seems to neat­ly cross two of my prime obses­sions, crime fic­tion and Appalachia. Be sure to pick it up. It's a guar­an­teed good read.

His first work of fic­tion in near­ly two decades, (Coun­try Dark is a taut, com­pelling nov­el set in rur­al Ken­tucky from the Kore­an War to 1970.

Tuck­er, a young vet­er­an, returns from war to work for a boot­leg­ger. He falls in love and starts a fam­i­ly, and while the Tuck­ers don’t have much, they have the love of their home and each oth­er. But when his fam­i­ly is threat­ened, Tuck­er is pushed into vio­lence, which changes every­thing. The sto­ry of peo­ple liv­ing off the land and by their wits in a back­woods Ken­tucky world of shine-run­ners and labor­ers whose social codes are every bit as nuanced as the British aris­toc­ra­cy, (Coun­try Dark is a nov­el that blends the best of Lar­ry Brown and James M. Cain, with a noose tight­en­ing ever­more around a man who just wants to pro­tect those he loves.

Pur­chase: Ama­zon, Indiebound, B&N


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Summer, poem by Brenda Glasure

Some days I remem­ber, but most­ly the nights.

We swal­lowed hard, Ken­tucky bour­bon burn,

Cru­dités of pret­zels and Slim Jims and peanuts. 

We rubbed our eyes against the soft of dusk,

bird­song slept, turned crick­ets and bullfrogs,

the tight buzz of mos­qui­toes drift­ed past.


Our legs hugged the curves of the hood on the old Nash,

rust­ed-out obser­va­to­ry in the mid­dle of the south field. 

The radio whis­pered, thin nee­dle scratched the dirt,

old love songs and poets and steel guitars.


We flung our arms wide in the weak-kneed darkness, 

pushed grav­i­ty back, wished for pow­er to soar, 

sling­shot past the sun on our way to Andromeda. 

you be the prince, I the dragon. 


In the mid­dle of a wheat field, crop cir­cles in straw 

the earth spun, a Cohen record in the dark, 

the stars whipped, Medusa’s mane, 

motes of dust, stunned in a moonbeam. 

We made our­selves dance, awk­ward Jr. High sway,

just to keep from turn­ing to stone.

Bren­da Glasure’s poet­ry, cre­ative non-fic­tion, and short sto­ries have appeared in Strong Verse, Drift­wood Review, Sto­ry Gar­den 5 and 7 and sev­er­al oth­er online jour­nals – large­ly under her pen name, Adria Abbott Glass. She grew up in a small Ohio town, and spent her sum­mers work­ing on her grand­par­ents’ dairy farm. She cur­rent­ly lives on the North­coast, run­ning a hand­made jew­el­ry busi­ness and writing.


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A Dangerous Man, poem by Julia Shipley

Have you seen my blue-eyed goose? He asks.

He keeps one among the reg­u­lar geese

in the grain room of his grandfather's barn,

where they honk like bro­ken trum­pets as we approach.

There are six, though you can't count these beaks, wings, crooked necks,

all crushed in a cor­ner, bleating.

He enters, while I abstain behind the chick­en wire door.

He yokes his arms around a goose, and sep­a­rates her.

They quiet—a brash hush.

I see what he wants to show me:

how he exhibits the one whose pupil

is encom­passed with the col­or of a rare, pale jewel.

Blue as the atom­ic scientist's iris,

as any clear sky, fall morning.

Adren­a­lin sluices our blue veins.

Are you ner­vous? He asks, carefully.

I don’t say I'm afraid

any god is a bomb.

Julia Ship­ley is the author of The Acad­e­my of Hay (Bona Fide Books, 2015) and Adam’s Mark (Plow­boy Press, 2015) as well as some chap­books: One Ton Crumb, First Do No Harm, Plan­et Jr. and Herd. Her work can also be found in 5 x 5, Barn­storm, Bar­rel­house, Burn­side Review, Cincin­nati Review, Col­orado Review, North Amer­i­can Review, Poet Lore, Poet­ry, Prairie Schooner (online) and ter​rain​.org. She lives on a home­stead in the boon­docks of North­ern Ver­mont. Her web­site is www​.writin​gonthe​farm​.com

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Forthcoming Changes

I need to fig­ure out whether or not to go for­ward with the Red­neck Press White Trash anthol­o­gy coedit­ed with Tim­o­thy Gager. I'm feel­ing increas­ing­ly guilty about ask­ing my fel­low writ­ers for sto­ries and poems with­out prop­er com­pen­sa­tion. It's one thing to pub­lish online with no com­pen­sation for FCAC, anoth­er to do a print anthol­o­gy. It just doesn't feel right any­more. I need to fig­ure these things out, so I'm post­ing this and invit­ing comments.

At the same time, I'm look­ing for an edi­tor to take over the day-to-day pub­lish­ing details at FCAC so I'm freed up for a new project. I'd pre­fer some­one with deep rur­al and/or Appalachi­an roots to take over. The job is easy, but time-con­sum­ing, at least an hour a day most weeks. Any poten­tial edi­tor would need to be inti­mate­ly famil­iar with Word­Press and Sub­mit­table or ready to learn quick­ly, post­ing new con­tent every three-four days all year long, and of course, read­ing sub­mis­sions. I'm hap­py to host the site and con­tin­ue to pay the bills, but it's not a pay­ing edi­to­r­i­al gig. If you're inter­est­ed, mail me at rusty.​barnes@​gmail.​com. If I don't find any­one, I'll shut FCAC down as regards new con­tent and sim­ply archive the site.

If you have ideas about any of this, please let me know here or via email. Thanks.

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