Kyle Minor - Praying Drunk (3 stars)

The US author's short story collection is by turns raw, complex, unpleasant and highly interesting

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Kyle Minor - Praying Drunk

(Sarabande)

Kyle Minor is well-known in the US underground lit scene, and the stories from Praying Drunk have been popping up in literary magazines and anthologies for several years. At first glance, this is a collection of angry-young-American tropes: pistol suicide, violent men and bitter women, trailer parks.

But as the stories unfold, there's something much more complex and interesting at work, and often the tales are so raw, so deeply unpleasant, that the urge to look away from the book is irresistible. In one piece, a bullied child contemplates the apocalypse while tracing his legacy of violence and guilt; in another, an artist explores the various madnesses of his wife's forest-dwelling family.

At times, the line between fiction and non-fiction is blurred or even thoroughly erased, with 'dear reader' interjections which work beautifully. The UK's small presses are publishing some of the finest and most unusual writing around and Praying Drunk proves that this is happening in America too.

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