2018 continues to be a pretty amazing year for me, as a reader. Not only have I read some excellent traditionally published books, but thanks to the magic of recommendations and getting to know some other authors, I’ve also been introduced to some truly amazing independent books I would have otherwise probably never have even seen.
And it’s a pity, because honestly, books like Keep Ithaka Always In Your Mind, The Little Demons Inside, Nothing is Strange rank up there as not only some of the best books I’ve read this year … but that I’ve read, period (and this is coming from someone who averages about 60 books read per year).
While I’ve been cranking through all these indie finds, I’ve amassed quite a collection of them on my bookshelf … and a huge backlog of books to-be-read. Lucky for me, my latest pick from the backlog wasn’t only another winner, but was an absolute gem of a book. Which is why I can’t say this any more clearly:
You need to read Appalachian Alchemy by Barlow Adams.
Like many of the other books that have blown me away this year, it’s from a new voice I hadn’t read before – and what I read was a magnificent combination of prose and storytelling.
This is a beautiful book.
It’s beautiful, and it’s so, so dirty. Not in the erotic sense, but in the reality sense. You see, Appalachian Alchemy is an exploration of poverty, family, society and circumstance – and to be true in that sense, one must get dirty. There’s drugs, murder, love, violence, pride, sex and desperation abound in this book. A yearning to be free, and a depiction of the helplessness one can feel when surrounded by a reality that you just can’t break free of.
Adams is almost Faulkner-esque in the way he can tell a story. The little nuances he imbues in the day-to-day lives of the characters build a reality that’s easy to picture, though at times you may not want to. Like the films, Out of the Furnace or The Place Beyond the Pines, Adams understands how to build a world you can’t help but want to watch, and a main character you want to root for … even though you have no idea if he’ll ever break free of the chains of the existence he’s born into.
I’m not about the summarize the book. If you want to know what it’s about, you can read that in the book’s description. What I will say is that if you are any sort of fan of literature, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
Sadly, it’s Barlow’s only published book (as of this writing) and it’s fairly short (basically a novella). I am eager to read more from this man and will be one of the first in line when he releases another work.
I’m sure once you read this, you will be there with me.