There is something about stories set in the American south, particularly those in and around the Mississippi. Whether they are classic American Southern Gothic, contemporary fiction, crime mystery or a combination the confluence of history, atmosphere and long-held beliefs makes for rich, dark, fertile storytelling. Jamie Kornegay digs into this tapestry with a debut about the environment, end-of-the-world paranoia and a family in break down.
Jay Mize is convinced the world is coming to a catastrophic end and that he must do something drastic to ensure his family’s future. He quits his job as an environmental scientist and moves his family out into the Mississippi flood basin to start a revolutionary farm. The story begins six months later with everything in ruins. Jay is practically bankrupt, his wife and son have left him and his farm and all his plans and ideas are literally underwater. As the flood waters recede Jay finds a body on his property. With his mild paranoia now full-blown delusional Jay decides he has to get rid of the body rather than report it and that’s when his troubles really start.
Peppered with a great cast of odd and unusual characters, including a bizarrely injured woodsman and a sex-addicted Sheriff’s Deputy, Korengay delivers a novel above and beyond the Coen Brothers comparisons. With just the right amount of wicked humour Korengay tells the story of a man driven to the brink, a brink only he can see coming, which he is determined to slip down.
Moving and affecting this book will suck you in from the opening pages. It will have you wincing and pleading, hoping and laughing and is a highly accomplished debut from a distinctive new voice in American fiction.