Growing Up Dead in Texas

Growing Up Dead in Texas

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by Stephen Graham Jones
     
 

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It was a fire that could be seen for miles, a fire that split the community, a fire that turned families on each other, a fire that it's still hard to get a straight answer about. A quarter of a century ago, someone held a match to Greenwood, Texas's cotton.

Stephen Graham Jones was twelve that year. What he remembers best, what's stuck with him all this time, is

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Overview

It was a fire that could be seen for miles, a fire that split the community, a fire that turned families on each other, a fire that it's still hard to get a straight answer about. A quarter of a century ago, someone held a match to Greenwood, Texas's cotton.

Stephen Graham Jones was twelve that year. What he remembers best, what's stuck with him all this time, is that nobody ever came forward to claim that destruction. And nobody was ever caught. Greenwood just leaned forward into next year’s work, and the year after that's, pretending that the fire had never happened. But it had. This fire, it didn't start twenty-five years ago. It had been smoldering for years by then. And everybody knew it. Getting them to say anything about it's another thing, though. Now Stephen's going back. His first time since high school, and maybe his last. For answers, for closure, for the people who can't go back. The ones who never got to leave.

Part mystery, part memoir, Growing Up Dead in Texas is packed with more secrets than your average graveyard. Stephen Graham Jones' breakout novel is a story about farming. A story about Texas. A story about finally standing up from the dead and walking away.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jones combines memoir and mystery in his latest novel (after Zombie Bake-Off), returning to his hometown of Greenwood, Texas, to explore a decades-old crime that would rend a community irrevocably asunder. In 1985, when the author is just 12 years old, a suspicious fire decimates Greenwood's cotton crop and threatens many of the townsfolk's livelihoods. Local teen Tommy Moore is caught in the field with an incriminatingly lit cigarette, and his savage beating by a descendant of the community's largest landowning family kicks off a tragic cycle of retribution that exacerbates longstanding conflicts amongst the people of Greenwood. Drawing from memory, interviews, and town legend, Jones acknowledges that he's an unreliable narrator, and that his story is "piecemeal, secondhand, polluted, cleaned-up then tore down." The book is an ambitious hybrid of fact and myth, past and present, that calls into question the nature of truth itself. While its sprawling web of characters and story lines may seem convoluted at times, the novel is unified by Jones's rhythmic prose and his evident compassion for his former neighbors' tragedies—both personal and pastoral. (June)
Joe R. Lansdale
What a wonderful book. Has all the flavor of memoir and all themiracle of fiction. I loved this book.

Publisher’s Weekly
The book is an ambitious hybrid of fact and myth, past and present, that calls into question the nature of truth itself. While its sprawling web of characters and story lines may seem convoluted at times, the novel is unified by Jones’s rhythmic prose and his evident compassion for his former neighbors’ tragedies—both personal and pastoral.

LA Review of Books
But most of all,Growing Up Dead in Texasis reminiscent of Tim O’Brien’s 1990 workThe Things They Carried, a connection that Jones has acknowledged. Both books share the same resistance to generic pigeonholing. WhileThe Things They Carriedcould be a war memoir, a collection of short stories, or a novel (or all three at once),Growing Up Dead in Texascould be a memoir, a mystery novel, or some combination thereof.

San Antonio Current
As existentially trying as it is just plain eerie, this work puts the NEA recipient and Shirley Jackson Award finalist on a new path of myth slaying biographical deconstruction. Like a way less affected reconfiguration of Cormac McCarthy territory, Growing up Dead in Texas is as haunting as it is humble, and should be filmed by the Coen brothers while they’re still hot off the heels of their last Southern Gothic.

Dallas Morning-News
Growing Up Dead in Texasis a riveting exploration of a 1985 fire that broke a cotton community in half. Although the fire never really happened, Jones’ fictionalized account gets closer to the truth about small-town West Texas than any true memoir ever could.

Craig Clevenger
Like finding my own diary from the years I’d forgotten, blacked out.Not so much reading, but more like remembering events I hadn’tactually lived through. I can’t say enough good things about thisbook.

Lidia Yuknavitch
We write novels and maybe read them to feel briefly new and alive. Butnovels are always taking us back through the pasts none of us want toadmit. Growing up Dead in Texas is that thrilling resurrection–thelife inside death and the death inside life. Trust me. I lived in WestTexas. Stephen Graham Jones’ book took my breath away and gave it backto me. This book is brilliant.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781849821544
Publisher:
MP Publishing Ltd
Publication date:
06/19/2012
Pages:
350
Sales rank:
1,130,089
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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Meet the Author

Stephen Graham Jones is the author of eight novels and two collections. He's been a Shirley Jackson Award finalist three times, a Bram Stoker Award finalist, a Black Quill Award finalist, an International Horror Guild finalist, a Colorado Book Award Finalist, a Texas Monthly Book Selection, and has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction and the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction. He lives in Boulder, CO.

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