About three years ago, John Clinch's novel Finn was released. Told from the perspective of Huck0 Finn's father, the book had a lot of buzz, great reviews, and comparisons to none other than Cormac McCarthy.
But buzz on the first book doesn't always mean the second will do even better. For every Middlesex, you can think of dozens where the second was much quieter. In my youth, every music fan knows about second album syndrome, but now I'd say most fans don't know about albums, making the comparison rather meaningless.
I'm told that Clinch's new novel, Kings of the Earth, more than satisfies the promise of Finn. Carl, our fan on staff called this "An amazing gothic story for a new master." The story of the Proctor Brothers is based on the true-life Ward Brothers, whose story was documented in the film, "Brother's Keeper." Carl recently told Jason that it's been a tough sell, but that doesn't mean the book isn't great or that readers won't come back to thank Carl when they take his advice. (And don't I know. It hasn't been easy to sell our 31 copies of Day for Night, but I've had no end of folks come back and tell me how much they loved it afterwards.)
Apparently, this is the kind of book that also generates great passion. Today I talked to none other than Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife, who told me how much he loved the book.
Here's a quote from Goolrick's Washington Post review:
"To say that this novel brings others to mind is not to denigrate it. It recalls the finest work of John Gardner, and Bruce Chatwin's On the Black Hill another exploration of the bonds between brothers that go unspoken but never unexamined. Kings of the Earth becomes a story that is not told but lived, a cry from the heart of the heart of the country, in William Gass's phrase, unsentimental but deeply felt, unschooled but never less than lucid. Never mawkish, Clinch's voice never fails to elucidate and, finally, to forgive, even as it mourns."
There are books I write recs for that I like ok and there are books I write recs for that I love, love, love. The same is true for reviewers. Goolrick's obviously in the latter category on this one. Read the rest of the review here.
I congratulated Goolrick on his continued success (it had just popped onto The New York Times bestseller list in paperback when we had his event last winter) and he told me its great performance has led to some interesting rights sales. Can you imagine A Reliable Wife published in Turkey and Indonesia? Well, it's happening.