Praying Drunkby Kyle Minor
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The characters in Praying Drunk speak in tongues, torture classmates, fall in love, abandon their children, keep machetes beneath passenger seats, and collect porcelain figurines. From Kentucky to Florida to Haiti, these stories enact the struggle to remain physically and spiritually alive throughout an untamable, turbulent world. Kyle Minor proves he's one of the most talented younger writers in America.
“Kyle Minor wants you to know that Praying Drunk is not actually, or only, a collection. In the epigraph, he warns: “These stories are meant to be read in order. This is a book, not just a collection. DON’T SKIP AROUND.’ Minor is right to insist. The stories may span decades as they move from Kentucky to Haiti and points between, but they work in concert to slowly reveal the landscape of an emotionally desolate quasi-America sinking under the weight of its own faith. . . . Minor writes beautifully about these ruined lives.”
New York Times Book Review
“An award-winning short fiction author offers twelve stories so ripe with realism as to suggest a roman à clef. . . . This brilliant collection unfolds around a fractured narrative of faith and friends and family, loved and lost.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“The collection’s masterpiece, the novella “In a Distant Country,” works in epistolary style through a wide array of correspondents. All are connected somehow to a troubled Baptist mission in Haiti, and their community portrait, thanks to Minor’s ventriloquism, achieves tragic stature. . . . [a] grim yet terrific collection.”
“Minor’s book is one of the most thought-provoking, intelligently designed story collections I’ve seen in some time, and the discussions he startsabout life, about art, about the boundaries and limitations of genreare ones scholars and writers alike will be discussing for quite some time, and with good reason. Equally impressively, the narratives are engaging and the sentences strikingly arranged.”
Barnes & Noble Reviews
“As a jealous and deeply insecure writer, I wish I didn’t have to report that these stories are enviably brilliant. But sadly, this is the fact of the matter. Kyle Minor has elevated the short story collection for me.”
LA Review of Books
"Kyle Minor’s new collection, Praying Drunk, has already made its claim for being one of the year’s best books. The stories contained within it recount wrenching stories of families in turmoil, faith challenged, and nations in upheaval. Structurally inventive and equally adept at realism and the surreal, Minor’s new book is a stunning work of literature."
Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Praying Drunk gets the whole thing down: the cosmic muck and the local glory, the big questions and the tiny lives, the bullies and the saviors, the screaming at the sky and the lights by the side of the road late at night on a long drive. I finished this book with my heart pounding and grateful, my coffee cold and my smile wide and crying like a baby."
"Watch Praying Drunk's lovely, lonely people wrestle with Minor's dark God and remember when you too tried to reason with Him and unravel His mysterious commands. These passionate tales, full of longing and daring and honesty, will disturb and inspire you."
Deb Olin Unferth
"When the characters residing in Kyle Minor’s engrossing and lively Praying Drunk find a toehold on the good life, I hope that it’s autobiographical. When the characters find themselves enveloped in desperate situations, irreversible circumstances, and despair, I pray that it’s solely out of the writer’s imagination. These fine storiesup there with the best works of Padgett Powell, Donald Barthelme, and Robert Coovernever straddle a milquetoast fence: they’re extreme in humor, extreme in sorrowfulness, and 100% individually-wrapped masterpieces. I am haunted and mesmerized by this collection."
George Singleton, author of Stray Decorum
An award-winning short fiction author offers 12 stories so ripe with realism as to suggest a roman à clef. "In a Distant Country" is the most affecting, ringing with the haunted truths of Shakespearean tragedy—a missionary in Haiti, his teenage bride, the Duvaliers overthrown, his death, her disappearance—a tale unfolding in six letters from witnesses. It's the 10th tale, but don't read it first. In sequence, the stories present a powerful reflective narrative, offering perspectives on friends, family and faith. Stories cut to the heart—a teen helps his father chop a pink piano into kindling before he "walked toward this woodpile with a loaded shotgun and blew off his head"; then the boy's funeral is rendered through multiple stories. Then come stories of the narrator's brother, a Nashville musician, cheated and misused, who quits, finds a good job and then quits again, "under the shadow of death, that end of all ends, and life is too short...when you could be standing under stage lights making somebody you never met before feel something." Pain and loss range from Ohio to Tennessee to Kentucky to Florida to Haiti, with prose ringing with the hard-edged, mordant clarity of Southern writing. A preacher turns the making of biscuits into a funeral parable, and there's more sardonic play with faith, as when a character sniffs up methadone powder: "There's the line, gone up like the rapture." That surrealistic piece follows a bereaved father who recreates a dead son as a bionic robot to win back his wife. This brilliant collection unfolds around a fractured narrative of faith and friends and family, loved and lost, an arc of stories in which characters find reason to carry on even after contemplating a "God with agency enough to create everything...and apathy enough to let it proceed as an atrocity parade." There's cynicism and despair and nihilism in the collection, certainly, but there's courage too and a measure of blood-tinged beauty.
- Sarabande Books
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Meet the Author
Kyle Minor is the winner of the 2012 Iowa Review Prize for Short Fiction and the Tara M. Kroger Prize for Short Fiction. He is also a three-time honoree in the annual Atlantic Monthly writing contest, and was named one of Random House’s Best New Voices of 2006. His work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Iowa Review, Salon.com, Best American Mystery Stories 2008, Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers, and Forty Stories: New Voices from Harper Perennial.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I found this book at once jarring and gorgeous. The experiments with form force you to read each piece differently, and serve in some ways as a pace-setter. As you proceed from one story to the next a bigger picture emerges and there's a heartbeat left on the page. Much recommended.
Minor's collection of short stories was pretty good. His first person narrations are entertaining and his tone is a mix of sarcasm and blunt honesty (although at times it may not seem so). At first, many of the stories seem random. However, as one keeps reading they come to find they each are relevant in there own way to the telling of Minor's overarching story and to hit home his main messages. So the moment where you realize how they are all connected is cool. To be honest though there are some stories in here that were a bit of a struggle to get through because they are so random. Overall though not a bad read. I just wouldn't go straight to spectacular.