Goddamn, another hero is gone. R.I.P. Lou Reed.
Goddamn, another hero is gone. R.I.P. Lou Reed.
A couple of good friends of mine, Jimmy Cajoleas and Phil McCausland, just launched Lent Magazine, and I wrote a profile of one of my favorite bands, Water Liars, for them. Check it out here.
And check out the other great content on the site, including Jimmy’s interviews with Mary Miller and Scott McClanahan, Phil’s interviews with Cole Furlow and Manuel Gonzales, and Andy Paul’s reconsideration of The Blair Witch Project.
Here’s Water Liars doing a new song, “Tolling Bells,” from their forthcoming record. I’ve been listening to the record for the last few weeks and this is one of my favorite tracks.
And here’s a version from that same show of “Swannanoa,” which I talk about in my profile. Might just be my favorite goddamn song ever.
I’m really honored that some of my favorite writers took the time to read Gravesend and that they had some nice things to say about it:
“Gravesend is a taut exploration of the ways we hurt and save (or try to save) one another. With unforgettable characters, a fist for a plot and a deeply evocative setting, Boyle navigates alleys and streets with the best of them, Lehane, Price, and Pelecanos.”
—Tom Franklin, author of Poachers, Hell at the Breech, Smonk, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and The Tilted World
“Gravesend is a book that hits you in the guts the same way David Goodis or Charles Willeford’s books do. Boyle’s mining that dark edge of America where no one is safe, not even from themselves. A dark ride but a seriously great ride.”
—Willy Vlautin, author of The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete, and The Free
“Gravesend kicks ass! An irresistible combo of an insider’s tour of Brooklyn and true and authentic 21st Century Noir. Boyle is one to watch.”
—Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Broken Places and Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland.
“William Boyle has written a terrific novel for the new millennium of Noir. A beautiful actress returns to her Brooklyn neighborhood where she finds the dark world she left has gotten worse. Peopled by ex-cons and ex-cops, teenage gangsters and Russian mobsters, Gravesend creates a claustrophobic intimacy as it moves swiftly to its shocking end. I finished the book grateful for release from its relentless grip, and admiring the guts it took to write such a brutal story.”
—Chris Offutt, author of Kentucky Straight, Out of the Woods, and The Good Brother
“William Boyle’s Gravesend is a bruiser and a heartbreaker of a debut. With echoes of Lehane and Pelecanos but with a rhythm and poignancy all its own, it’s a gripping tale of family, revenge, the strains of the past and the losses that never leave us.”
—Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me, The End of Everything, Queenpin, The Song is You, and Die A Little
“There’s a natural, forthright style here that seems born of this writer’s sense of duty to his characters, these denizens of non-hipster Brooklyn living out the dooms they were born to, nurturing their vices, the hours of their lives plaited masterfully together, their lusts and regrets interlaced. The novel unspools without hurry but also without an extra line, giving neither the desire nor opportunity to look up from it. There’s an exhilaration that accompanies seeing a place and its folks this clearly and fairly, feeling at once that the writer is nowhere to be found and also working tirelessly to show you the right things. Boyle arrives in thorough possession of his seedy yet venerable world, this low-roofed urban hinterland. I can’t remember being more convinced by the people in a novel. Boyle’s characters, each in his or her own way, are accepting the likely future—with violence, with sex, with resignation, with rebellion, by being upbeat. You’ll be grateful, and it won’t take long, to be in this writer’s hands.”
—John Brandon, author of Arkansas, Citrus County, and A Million Heavens
“Boyle understands blood in all its meanings. He’s a dark poet who knows how to draw you close so he can slip the knife into your heart. Gravesend is deeply felt, brutal, tragic, personal and beautiful. You won’t forget it.”
—Jack Pendarvis, author of The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure, Your Body is Changing, and Awesome
“Gravesend plops you down in the midst of a tragedy waiting to happen, and as the story rumbles toward its shattering conclusion, you’ll find yourself digging in your heels against the terrible inevitability of it all. William Boyle lays bare a seedy corner of Brooklyn and the tortured souls who inhabit it in his debut, and in so doing stakes out his own turf among up-and-coming two-fisted writers.”
—Richard Lange, author of Dead Boys, This Wicked World, and Angel Baby
The Free by Willy Vlautin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I give a lot of books that I really like five stars on Goodreads, but I don’t mean it the way I mean it with Willy Vlautin’s books. He’s the patron saint of the sick and the sad, and this is another damn beautiful novel. He tears you down and builds you back up the way only he can. I broke down crying at least ten times but walked away from the book feeling happy to be alive.
I’m reading at Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia with one of my favorite writers, Scott McClanahan, on Thursday, November 7 at 4 PM. If you’re anywhere near West Virginia, you should come. My friends Jimmy Cajoleas and Phil McCausland, who just launched Lent Magazine, will be making the trip with me.
Here’s the Facebook page for the event.
Update, 11/7: Just as we were pulling out, we got word that Scott McClanahan had the flu and wouldn’t be able to make the reading. The event will be rescheduled, possibly for January.