Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hills of Virginia

Josh Weil was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and according to his bio he now “divides his time between New York City and a cabin in southwestern Virginia, where he is at work on a novel”. It's easy to tell that he has a strong connection to the rugged hill country between Virginia and West Virginia where the three novellas of The New Valley take place. The remoteness and stark beauty of the landscape seem to color the lives of each of the main characters. These are isolated men trying to make human connections, and their stories are sometimes amusing but more often haunting and heartrending.

There's something reminiscent of Ron Carlson or Daniel Woodrell in his powerful descriptions of decent but inarticulate men and unforgiving nature, but some of Weil's characters are unconventional enough to remind me a little of Flannery O'Connor. Make no mistake, these are not upbeat tales. Not recommended for readers who like uplifting endings, but I look forward to reading the novel that emerges from that remote cabin.

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