Critics are loving Kyle Minor's Praying Drunk. Check out the press the short story collection has garnered so far:
“Kyle Minor wants you to know that Praying Drunk is not actually, or only, a collection. In the epigraph, he warns: “These stories are meant to be read in order. This is a book, not just a collection. DON’T SKIP AROUND.’ Minor is right to insist. The stories may span decades as they move from Kentucky to Haiti and points between, but they work in concert to slowly reveal the landscape of an emotionally desolate quasi-America sinking under the weight of its own faith. . . . Minor writes beautifully about these ruined lives.”
—New York Times Book Review
Buzz began last May when Publishers Weekly named Praying Drunk a "Galley to Grab" at BEA, the largest conference for booksellers, critics, and librarians in the country.
"Similar to a great magic trick, the 13 stories in Minor's (In the Devil's Territory) latest lure reader investment with strong visuals while simultaneously pulling the rug out from underfoot with clever, literary sleights-of-hand. Though not necessarily linked in the traditional sense, there is a sequential order to the collection--ideas, locations, incidents, and characters echo as the volume chugs forward--and the result is an often dazzling, emotional, funny, captivating puzzle."
Before the close of 2013, Praying Drunk snagged a starred review from Kirkus, who said:
“An award-winning short fiction author offers twelve stories so ripe with realism as to suggest a roman à clef. . . . This brilliant collection unfolds around a fractured narrative of faith and friends and family, loved and lost.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Before the clock strikes midnight to close the book on 2013, we're going to make the prediction that 2014 will be the year when literary folk won't be able to stop talking about Kyle Minor's masterfully written collection of stories."
In February, The Boston Globe gushed:
“The collection’s masterpiece, the novella “In a Distant Country,” works in epistolary style through a wide array of correspondents. All are connected somehow to a troubled Baptist mission in Haiti, and their community portrait, thanks to Minor’s ventriloquism, achieves tragic stature. . . . [a] grim yet terrific collection.”
And at the L.A. Times:
“To read Praying Drunk is to open yourself up to the type of rumination that some might be afraid of: namely, how can anyone have faith when humans do so much to distort godliness?. . . . The collection acts as a crisis of faith in a part of America that is steeped in faith. How does it feel for a former preacher to wander a landscape of the devout? Melancholy, to be sure. The beauty of Praying Drunk, though, is that it transcends suffering to evoke the sublime.”
The Daily Beast called it a "hot read" for the week on February 18:
“Fittingly, some of the most marvelous moments in this collection are shaped more like sharp memories than full-on stories, like “First, The Teeth,” in which the narrator visits his dying grandfather in the hospital and struggles to paste in his false teeth. . . . The lesson is clear: the habits the mind takes up long outlive memories of the experiences that built those habits in the first place. Better pray.”
And Buzzfeed listed it first on their "15 Highly Anticipated Books from (Mostly) Small Presses" roundup:
"A mix of Southern gothic, crime, and horror — all with a literary bent — Minor knows that our morality is not black and white, but shades of gray, and that our actions are often questionable."
Vol. 1 Brooklyn weighed in, saying:
"We aren’t far into 2014, but Kyle Minor’s new collection, Praying Drunk, has already made its claim for being one of the year’s best books. The stories contained within it recount wrenching stories of families in turmoil, faith challenged, and nations in upheaval. Structurally inventive and equally adept at realism and the surreal, Minor’s new book is a stunning work of literature."
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
In January, Minor headed to Seattle for Winter Institute 9, another major conference for booksellers. Publishers Weekly chatted with Marketing Director Kristen Radtke about why we've so excited for the book, and Shelf Awareness listed Praying Drunk as one of two short story collections getting the most buzz before the event.
Excitement for Praying Drunk has extended beyond the book, too. The LA Times gushed about its swag in a post at Jacket Copy called "How to make sure your book has a shot at getting noticed."
Grab your own Praying Drunk shot glass here.
More of our publicity favorites:
- The Rumpus selected Praying Drunk as a November Book Club pick. Check out their interview with him here, as well as an awesome graphic review of the collection here.
- A great review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Poets & Writers includes Praying Drunk as a Page One "New and Noteworthy Books" feature in their March issue. Check out their podcast where Minor reads the book's introduction.
- Amie Barrodale interviews Minor at VICE, gushing: "Everyone has got to read this."
- Time Out New York weighs in.
- Minor writes about Alice Munro's influence on his stories for The Atlantic
- Fiction Writers Review says "Praying Drunk is an experience that will change us and stay with us long after its last word."
- Matt Bell interviews Minor at The Believer
- Barnes & Noble Reviews tells us why Praying Drunk is a book to read this month: “Minor’s book is one of the most thought-provoking, intelligently designed story collections I’ve seen in some time. . . . Equally impressively, the narratives are engaging and the sentences strikingly arranged.”
- Minor rounds up the "15 Hottest Affairs in Literature" at the Huffington Post
- A review at Electric Literature
- In the UK, The List reviews
At the LA Review of Books: "As a jealous and deeply insecure writer, I wish I didn’t have to report that these stories are enviably brilliant. But sadly, this is the fact of the matter. Kyle Minor has elevated the short story collection for me."
- A review at HTMLGiant.
- An interview at Late Night Literary.
- The ivy-league set joins in at The Harvard Crimson.
- Amazing short-storiest Ben Marcus says he's reading Praying Drunk in an interview with The Millions.
- Douglas Watson interviews Minor at Hobart.
- March 11: In conversation with Jason Diamond at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn.
- March 17: Smallpresspallooza at Powell's City of Books in Portland.
- March 15: In conversation with Amelia Gray at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.
- March 25: Reading and after party at Carmicheal's Bookstore in Louisville.
- April 3: Reading and Sarabande Books anniversary celebration at Prairie Lights with Angela Pelster as part of the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City.
Click here to download a complete review compendium.
The characters in Praying Drunk speak in tongues, torture their classmates, fall in love, hunt for immortality, abandon their children, keep machetes beneath passenger seats, and collect porcelain figurines. A man crushes pills on the bathroom counter while his son watches from the hallway; missionaries clumsily navigate an uprising with barbed wire and broken glass; a boy disparages memorized scripture, facedown on the asphalt, as he fails to fend off his bully. From Kentucky to Florida to Haiti, these seemingly disparate lives are woven together within a series of nested repetitions, enacting the struggle to remain physically and spiritually alive throughout the untamable turbulence of their worlds. In a masterful blend of fiction, autobiography, and surrealism, Kyle Minor shows us that the space between fearlessness and terror is often very small. Long before Praying Drunk reaches its plaintive, pitch-perfect end, Minor establishes himself again and again as one of the most talented younger writers in America.