Soil: A Novel

Soil: A Novel

Jamie Kornegay

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 1476750874

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this darkly comic, “promising debut from an assured new voice in Southern fiction” (Library Journal), an idealistic young farmer moves his family to a Mississippi flood basin, suffers financial ruin—and becomes increasingly paranoid he’s being framed for murder.

It all begins with a simple dream. An ambitious young environmental scientist hopes to establish a sustainable farm on a small patch of land nestled among the Mississippi hills. Jay Mize convinces his wife Sandy to move their six-year-old son away from town and to a rich and lush parcel where Jacob could run free and Jay could pursue the dream of a new and progressive agriculture for the twenty-first century. Within a year he’d be ruined.

When the corpse appears on his family’s property, Jay is convinced he’s being set up. And so beings a journey into a maze of misperceptions and personal obsessions, as the farmer, his now-estranged wife, a predatory deputy, and a backwoods wanderer, all try to uphold a personal sense of honor. By turns hilarious and darkly disturbing, Soil traces one man’s apocalypse to its epic showdown in the Mississippi mudflats. “The Coen brothers meets Flannery O’Connor. It’s definitely Gothic, it’s definitely dark, but at the same time, it is hilarious and heartbreaking” (Kyle Jones, NPR).

Drawing on elements of classic Southern noir, dark comedy, and modern dysfunction, Jamie Kornegay’s novel is about the gravitational pull of one man’s apocalypse and the hope that maybe, just maybe, he can be reeled in from the brink. “Dig your hands into this Soil to find gutty and peppery writing, an almost recklessly bold imagination, audacious empathy, and a story so twisty and volatile that nearly every turn feels electrifyingly unexpected” (Jonathan Miles, award-winning author of Want Not and Dear American Airlines).

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lunging forward and back across the nylon wall of the tent. Faint whispers and curses from within, an occasional grunt and crackling of plastic. A silhouette advanced in violent, aggravated rhythm. Finally Jay exploded from the tent, breathless, as if shot up from the sea, yanking his gas mask aside and gasping for air. He stumbled out dribbling yellow bile down his chin and onto his gore-streaked apron. The hatchet fell from his hand, and he peeled away pink rubber kitchen gloves. He went

seed brochures the way he did. One morning he walked out back to turn the piles and found that someone had laid a cruel turd atop one of his prize mounds. It was definitely human. The stench was complex and he found a fast-food napkin with brown streaks nearby. He couldn’t believe the audacity. They’d just hopped up on the bin, draped themselves over the corner, and let one rip. He paced the back porch and spent hours at the window, profiling every neighbor who walked by with a pet. Every

have scored a hit. “If you ever feel that way, like everyone has forgotten about you, give me a call and we can do this again,” he said. He stood up like a gentleman and began to walk out with her when the waiter hollered across the restaurant. “Sir, sir, you forgot your card.” Shoals frowned at his overeagerness and waved him off. He wanted to escort her to the car. There was always a chance, when faced with the prospect of returning home to her sadness, that she would change her mind. But she

an alternate reality at the dead end of slumber. He writhed in bed awhile, trying to come back to life. Much of the ache inside him was physical hunger. He’d not eaten since the porch onion—days ago, he guessed—and he still tasted smoke and blood in his throat, raw from all the dust and fumes. Chipper smiled lazily, lying next to him in bed. The house reeked of shit. He got up finally and stumbled through his barren home, looking for something clean to ingest. The rooms were cool, the hall and

discerned. There was something official in their ascent. There was no other good reason for them to show up here uninvited. He trousered the pistol and moved to the back door by the carport. He set the .22 against the wall by the door and held the twelve-gauge in the crook of one arm, arranging himself so that he could observe their approach and then charge out blasting if the situation required it. When they reached the house, both trucks idled in the driveway. He wondered if the deputy had

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