Allegheny Front - Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction (Paperback)Matthew Neill Null (author)
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Set in the author's homeland of West Virginia, this panoramic collection of stories traces the people and animals who live in precarious balance in the mountains of Appalachia over a span of two hundred years, in a disappearing rural world. With omniscient narration, rich detail, and lyrical prose, Matthew Neill Null brings his landscape and characters vividly to life.
"Allegheny Front has few sentimental trappings. . . . Men's stubbornness is a rock face, in these intelligent and unpretentious stories, their anger a crown fire, their occasional tenderness a rill. . . . It remains at a distance from judgment, at a remove from easy definitions, unspooling a lucid and often painful history of appetite, exploitation, and bereavement." Lydia Millet, from the introduction
"Rich in history, speech, incident, flora, fauna, vernacular, geology, politics Matthew Neill Null's work is dazzling. . . . If anything ever happened in the state of West Virginia, Null knows the long and short of it, and will make its story sing." Salvatore Scibona
Matthew Neill Null is the author of the novel Honey from the Lion (Lookout Books). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, winner of the PEN/O. Henry Award and the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, his short fiction has appeared in the Oxford American, Ploughshares, the Mississippi Review, American Short Fiction, Ecotone, and elsewhere. He divides his time between West Virginia and Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he coordinates the writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center.
Publisher: Sarabande Books, Incorporated
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 318 g
Dimensions: 213 x 140 x 18 mm
A "Best Book of Summer 2016," Publishers Weekly A "Most Anticipated Book of 2016," The Millions and The Masters Review "Ten Titles to Pick Up Now," O, The Oprah Magazine "Tender and elegant.... Within that setting of crags, foreboding forests, and onrushing creeks, Null finds poetry and moments that can sometimes bear something like grace.... Null is a natural writer with much to say." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review "This remarkable story collection... is a cleareyed look at an area that has been torn apart for more than a century.... Together these stories show the human and natural calamity that follows when an entire region is seen merely as a resource to be carved up, mined and sold. Null never yields to nihilism, but captures the rich and complex, if imperfect, lives of the dispossessed." -The New York Times Book Review "The nine stories in the collection are masterpieces of brutality and beauty.... Each story is so carefully plotted, you simply cannot predict what will happen next, and only by the end will you be able to see the thematic complexity in Null's mind. It will wash over you like an epiphany.... This is the work of a master storyteller." -San Francisco Chronicle "Violence is inevitable in these stories...but there is plenty of beauty, too. The scope of the collection contains voices from multiple generations, and the result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a distinctive region of North America, as well as an exercise in finding the universal in the particular." -Publishers Weekly "Memorable....Null's nine detailed tales explore the value of landscapes, both topographical and emotional, as well as the connections one clings to despite imminent wreckage." -Booklist "Like the beads and baubles in a child's kaleidoscope, turned and reflected in bright sunlight, various aspects of Appalachia-history, geography, politics, and personalities-are expertly examined and illuminated in Matthew Neill Null's new story collection Allegheny Front.... In this beautiful and finely crafted collection we come to see how, in the Appalachia of both past and present, the inevitability of change may be the only constant." -Oxford American "West Virginia author Matthew Neill Null brings the richness of his mountain heritage to each page....Null understands the rugged West Virginia landscape and how its inhabitants blend and meld to its unforgiving truths and persevere in spite of it. He bypasses the tired cliches and timeworn assumptions of Appalachian life. He skips straight to the essence of the mountains and valleys." -Charleston Gazette-Mail "Prodigious in vision, and lushly evocative, Allegheny Front will undoubtedly solidify Matthew Neill Null's reputation as one of the most ecologically and morally conscious writers working in fiction today." -The Masters Review "Matthew Neill Null's new story collection, Allegheny Front...hews to geologic time. Some of the stories read like historical fiction in the Faulknerian mode, surrounded by a universal nostalgia without sentimentality. Allegheny Front is about the history of a specific place, one that adds up to more than simple Civil War stories, pioneer lore, and weekend camping tales, it's about the cold passage of eons that might trivialize his character's stories, were those stories in other hands-these brief flashes of struggle and disappointment are the reasons we consider time at all." -The Paris Review Daily, Staff Pick "Allegheny Front runs its fingers virtuosically across the keyboard of West Virginia's history, lighting on two centuries' worth of farmers and drovers, hunters and fishermen, scientists, poachers, preachers, and criminals....Equal to Null's love of his native land and its inhabitants is his clear delight in the short story form and its traditions, the rigors it demands and the delirious possibilities it offers....Astonishingly vivid...Stories of symphonic complexity and power." -The Rumpus "Erudite, unsentimental, and alert to the natural world, Null turns the history of West Virginia into stories that feel both authentic and mythological." -Ploughshares "This winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, chosen by Lydia Millet, stunningly depicts the gratuitous destruction of all living things, and the often retaliatory need we humans have in carrying out these horrendous misdeeds. Though it is about so much more, its account of the death of nature is as heartbreaking as it is unforgettable." -Literary Hub "Allegheny Front is as notable for the strength of its prose as it is for the ways in which it eludes expectations...finding compelling drama in the spaces normally left blank in histories and stories, and it's to Null's credit that these stories never feel academic or dry. Instead, they're as visceral and tense and the landscapes and relationships that they describe." -Electric Literature "Allegheny Front is a thing of wild beauty....Null's work is both literary and documentary in nature, revealing place and character while outlining issues of the environment, wildlife, the way our lives rub raw against the land we live on. A wild, raw journey and a must read book of stories." -LitCh@t "Null's descriptive writing is strong throughout, expertly depicting nature and character interactions with it.... Null tells his stories from different perspectives and sets them in different time periods, but the West Virginia setting provides reliable connective tissue....[Null] is an author with a strong sense of place and character." -Foreword Reviews "History marks its territory. The past scars the land, erodes rocky soil and streams. It lives in the shape of boulders and peaks. In Null's stories, people shudder against the seismic pressure of time that shapes their lives in the ancient Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. This collection is hard, deep, and true as the mountains' darkest hollows, as Null sweeps through moments in the last century, making each feel as urgent as your foot caught in the rocks and your body pulled under swirling white water rapids." -Chris Lee, Bookseller, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI "Matthew Neill Null's stories are exquisite and haunting. They bring to crackling life a place we may think we know, but that under his gaze blossoms into something unexpected." -Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA "He captures those characters and that setting with unsettling clarity and complexity. The contemporary stories are terrific juxtaposition for the historic stories, though. I think they actually provide opportunity to catch your breath." -Adah Fitzgerald, Bookseller, Main Street Books, Davidson, NC "Searching for one word to describe the experience of reading Matthew Neill Null's stories, what I've settled on is "recognition". Not a recognition of the people, animals, and landscapes of West Virginia, which form the bedrock of these stories-- I've never been. But Null is so well-versed in his craft, and in the particular place that made him, that I felt somehow that I was returning there. Does that seem far-fetched, high-flown? Read Allegheny Front and you'll see that I'm not exaggerating." -Travis Smith, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
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