Eric Shonkwiler’s debut novel, Above All Men, recently released by MG Press and available for order now here and here, is the story of war veteran David Parrish fighting to keep his family safe in a near-future America leached of oil. Esteemed writers have praised this book from their hearts. Seasoned editors have taken notice of Shonkwiler. This reporter isn’t naming any names, but a mutual friend long a shaker in the guerrilla publishing scene says, “I describe the book as landing somewhere between a soberer Hemingway, a more linear Faulkner, a heavy rotation of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads, a couple’a shots of Bulleit, an infected snakebite, and Cormac McCarthy. Eric's writing style has been compared to Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, William Gay, Marilynne Robinson, James Agee, Edward P. Jones, John Steinbeck, and Denis Johnson.” That’s how I found out about it.
I started reading. It was a few years from now, and America was collapsing. Crops were drying up and dying off and there was hardly any oil, society’s critical addiction, the artificial bloodstream making everything run. People were fleeing from the cities out into the countryside in madly ecstatic suspension of moral law. Parrish labors to keep his family and farm together in the midst of all this elaborate dysfunction, but the murder of a small local child opens old personal wounds for David, making him choose to face his own nature on a hunt for the killer through dust storms and crumbling towns. In Above All Men, Shonkwiler paints a possible future beyond expectation but far from unlikely, when all the little gadgets and pods and pads have died off and we’re not connected anymore and we gamble in dirty caves and trade hunks of meat for survival. Shonkwiler renders the degraded deprivation of protagonist David Parrish’s unflagging resilience in artful, distinctively crafted language. Before I knew it, I was through the book feeling unusually satisfied as a reader always in search of that elusive feeling. I'm not the only one who likes it. Check out these raves:
“Shonkwiler takes the world on his own terms, and wrestles it to the ground.” Tom Lutz, Editor-in-Chief, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Shonkwiler has taken an iconic landscape and filtered it through near-collapse and fear, then through loyalty and love.” Susan Straight, National Book Award Finalist
“Sparse and poetic, the words within these pages are as sharp as a corn knife.” Frank Bill, author of Donnybrook and Crimes in Southern Indiana
Eric Shonkwiler’s writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Fiddleblack, [PANK] Magazine and Midwestern Gothic. He was born and raised in Ohio, received his MFA from the University of California Riverside, and has lived and worked in every contiguous U.S. time zone. Bookstores order via Ingram. Readers can order via the links in this article, or from Amazon, iBookstore, Kindle Store, barnesandnoble.com, Nook Store, and other online retailers.