PUSH IT (11/17/11) We received word today that "The Best Cemetery in the South" (see below!) has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Woot!

PRIME TIME (10/17/11) Our essay "The Best Cemetery in the South (in which to Kiss a Woman)" appears in this month's Prime Number Magazine (Vol 13). This is the piece that won the Faulkner-Wisdom nonfiction award a few years back. Why so long to make it to print? Well.... we took it off the market for a while, turning down a couple of offers to publish it. Because it's just that personal. Prime Number is too good of a venue to decline, however ... so now it's available!


A REASON TO START READING NEWSPAPERS AGAIN (AT LEAST ONLINE) (10/9/11) Our friend Patrick Brian Miller's interview about his Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative made the USA Today tech page. Yeah, so, it was picked up from the local rag, but it features our model friend Audria as "Red."


SHAKE AND BAKE (12/5/10) One of our most experimental (and therefore least salable) stories made it to print after umpteen years of trying. It's called "Shook Foil." Yes, it's based on Gerard Manly Hopkins' poem. It's about a man who wakes up one day to discover he can only speak poetry. It appears in the debut issue of And/Or, an experimental journal.


IT'S NICE TO BE NOMINATED (9/18/10) We were delighted to be one of seven finalists for the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society's Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. Two years ago we won the nonfiction medal. We didn't win the novel category we wuz nominated in, but it made us happy to make the Top 7.


What better way to celebrate July 4 than with a story about the God-given democratic right to drink beer? We're all sudsy over the fact that "The Day Draft Beer Came to Town" has poured into the summer issue of The Meadowland Review. Just scroll to page 38. 

We are delighted to announce that Five Star made Dixie Noir available in Kindle from Amazon! For only $7.99! Satanic forces are at work getting Breathing Out the Ghost and Baby, Let's Make a Baby in digital format as well, hopefully by 9/1.

We are Day-Glo with delight to be included in the debut issue of The Technicolor, a new lit mag out of the DIY fields of Colorado (presuming Colorado has fields). The story is called "45 and 144," and it's appropriate for Father's Day!

The news broke last week that Dixie Noir is one of seventeen finalists for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards in the mystery category. We were here two years ago for Breathing Out the Ghost and came up goose egg, so we're not closing the office and stripping down quite yet. But we are happy to be among the finalists.... UPDATE: Another year, another donut.

A new Q&A on Dixie Noir is up and running at
Sons of Spade

We were delighted to learn this week that Breathing Out the Ghost was included on the list of Top 10 Reads of 2009 over at A Novel Menagerie. It's a fab website run by a dedicated reader (Sheri), part of a booming network of literary blogs that are rapidly taking the place of evaporating book review outlets (RIP, Kirkus). We started 2009 with a wonderful tour of 15 such sites; ending it with Ghost earning a spot on Sheri's list brings the year full circle.

A new essay on the inspiration behind Dixie Noir appears in the December 2009 issue of Mystery Scene Magazine. Because that particular part of the mag isn't online, we're reprinting the essay en toto here. (Mystery Scene's review of Dixie is available on our Press page).

"I no sooner moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1993 than I knew I wanted to write a novel about this underappreciated Southern capital. The essence of that character is dialectical. Downtown, the house where Jefferson Davis oversaw Southern secession in February 1861 stands only paces from the church where Martin Luther King, Jr. directed the bus boycott ninety-five years later. The two attractions form the heart of our tourism, yet they exist in uneasy alliance, one preserving the very legacy of the Civil War that the Civil Rights Movement vowed to overcome. For every Rosa Parks we revere here, we’re urged to acknowledge (if not celebrate) Confederate valor, to appreciate states rights as intently as civic disobedience. The schism even cleaves our popular culture: Nat King Cole is our native son, Zelda Fitzgerald our wild child.

I originally wanted to explore these opposing traditions in a political novel à la All the King’s Men. The plot would trace a mayoral race between the first viable African-American contender for office and an incumbent with ties to Montgomery’s segregationist past. I was inspired by a racist fear certain whites still voice: the day we elect a black mayor, they whisper, will be the day we kiss our municipal future goodbye.

The form of that book grew too unwieldy. Then fellow author Wayne Greenhaw introduced me to a boffo bit of forgotten noir: Violent Saturday by William L. Heath (1924-2007), which takes place in a fictionalized Scottsboro, Alabama, infamous site of the wrongful 1931 conviction of nine black men for raping two white women. On the surface, Heath’s book is a slick combination of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, William Faulkner’s Sanctuary, and John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra. Yet, published in the same 1955 as Rosa Parks was arrested, its hardboiled bank-caper-gone-bloodily-awry plot documents a time when nobody knew who’d be left standing when the smoke of desegregation cleared.

Before Violent Saturday, I hadn’t read noir since adolescence. Heath’s example suggested how to capture Montgomery’s character in a slam-bang storyline that was equal parts action and racial agonizing. I ran the idea by some drinking pals, and one improvised the perfect title: Dixie Noir. For a Jägermeister shot, I bought it off him.

My novel involves two intertwined searches, one for a photograph exposing how the incumbent mayor opposed the bus boycott in his youth, the other for a girl whose ambiguous heritage may have devastating consequences for the challenger. The first was inspired by Montgomerians I’ve met who did not support Civil Rights, and who have had to accept that they stood on the wrong side of history. The second explores how pervasive the fear of miscegenation remains, long after the repudiation of the one-drop rule and in an age when the need for 'passing' should be passé—but isn’t."

The official kick-off to Dixie Noir is here. Join us on Sunday, December 13, 2009, from 3 to 6 p.m. at El Rey Burrito Lounge, 1031 E. Fairview Avenue. It promises to be an afternoon of mayhem and misadventure.

A short (and we do mean short
as in 25 words short) story by Kirk called "Afterglow" has been accepted for publication in an anthology of unique "hint fiction." You can read about the author who coined the term and who is editing the collection for W.W. Norton: Robert Swartwood. The book will be out Fall 2010 and will include some heady contributors: Joyce Carol Oates, Ha Jin, F. Paul Wilson, Peter Straub, plus several first-time authors. Overall, Swartwood selected a total of 125 pieces from some 2,500 submissions.

BLOCKHEAD (10/13/09)
A new story, "Jenny on the Block," is now up and online at Suss: Another Literary Journal. Suss also has a great feature called "Gossip," with contributor recommendations that's well worth checking out.

Pre-publication reviews for Dixie Noir are starting to trickle in, six weeks before the book goes street-legal.

See what Publishers Weekly has to say (Scroll down to the mystery section)

Thrilling Detective, meanwhile, thinks Ennis Skinner will make for a great recurring character. We're so flattered we don't mind that they misspelled the boss's name. And we definitely love seeing Dixie Noir compared to the Drive-By Truckers' pistol-whip of an LP, Dirty South.

Most excitingly, Kirkus Reviews has given Dixie a starred review. Because KR is a subscription mag, instead of a link we'll humbly reprint the entire review below:

Author: Curnutt, Kirk

Review Date: OCTOBER 01, 2009
Publisher:Five Star
Pages: 290
Price (hardback): $$25.95
Publication Date: 11/18/2009 0:00:00
ISBN: 978-1-59414-821-7
ISBN (hardback): 978-1-59414-821-7
Category: FICTION
Classification: MYSTERY

A disgraced gridiron star emerges from ten years in prison for a final showdown with the man he shot.

Everyone in football-mad Alabama hates Ennis Skinner. Booted as quarterback of the Crimson Tide after telling a TV reporter he used cocaine, he spent a decade at the Kilby Correctional Facility after gut-shooting meth manufacturer High C, whom he blamed for the death of his girlfriend and fellow addict Faye James. Ennis has been paroled, but it looks as if his whole life is about to repeat itself. C, now a publisher who sells counterculture manuals on the Internet, demands that Ennis discharge his debt by finding Faye's missing 19-year-old daughter Dixie, who's not exactly retarded but none too quick either. The search plunges Ennis and Red, the comely bartender he's hooked up with, into the middle of a racially charged race for mayor of Montgomery. Both the incumbent, Amory Justice, and his challenger, former Freedom Rider Walk Compson, are well-stocked with highly combustible ammunition; the death of Dixie's grandfather, apparently of autoerotic asphyxia, provides the match that sets the whole town aflame. To dramatize the final confrontation between Ennis and C, Curnutt (Breathing Out the Ghost, 2008) uses flash-forwards that may seem to give too much away, but he still keeps plenty of shocking revelations.

Jim Thompson in the Deep South. Proof that noir will never die, which is more than you can say for the cast.


Finally, what's more flattering than a novel sharing a name with a dominatrix? Meet a wholly different Dixie Noir. The cross-promotional possibilities boggle the mind...


COVER ME (6/4/09)
August (Key West Hemingway, below) and November (Dixie Noir, at right) are starting to look very attractive indeed ... if we do say so ourselves.
Kirk's story "Manning the House" has been named one of the notable online stories of 2008 in the storySouth Million Writers Award competition. The story originally appeared in O&S last August. Many thanks to editor and publisher Didi Menendez for nominating us!
Kirk asked us to post this: "Along with every other lover of American literature, I was saddened to hear of the passing of one of my heroes last week. I can still remember discovering Rabbit Redux among my mother's paperbacks as a young man and immediately taking to a style that was as limpid as it was poetic. I spent an entire summer once reading John Updike's books in order. That was 1983, about halfway through his career, as it turns out, something like 25 books at the time. A few months later I wrote him a gushing fan letter and was shocked to receive a manually typed postcard thanking me for my enthusiasm.

Flash forward about 23 years. A publisher emails one day to say they've hired Updike to write the preface to my Coffee with Hemingway. It was a surreal moment indeed. It had nothing to do with me; he didn't see my manuscript or anything. He was simply intrigued by the series and enjoyed writing about Hemingway. As it turned out, his preface meshed nicely with the points I was trying to make. I felt very lucky.

So lucky that I wrote a second gushing fan letter. I included a first edition of A Farewell to Arms, if only because I felt I owed the man something more valuable than a couple contributors' copies. Very quickly another manually typewritten postcard arrived: 'How moving and pleasing it is to hold a 1929 copy of A Farewell to Arms---how much better the old editions fit in the hand.' The note sent me scurrying to my bookshelf and a few first editions I'd managed to collect, including my favorite: The Centaur, from 1963, a wonderful book that nobody seems to talk about any more. As with so many things, Updike was right: the old books have a heft our contemporary ones tend to lack. Very sad indeed."
We're kicking 2009 off with a virtual blog tour for Breathing Out the Ghost, sponsored by (With interview!)

January 6: Ramya's Bookshelf
(Kirk's guest post here)

January 7: The Sleepy Reader
(Kirk's guest post here)

January 8: Crime Ne.ws

January 12: Savvy Verse and Wit
(With interview!)

January 13: Educating Petunia

January 14: Michele-One L

January 15: Book Nut

January 16: AnnieGirl1138 

January 19: Caribou's Mom
(Kirk's Guest post here)

January 20: Lilo-Lost in Limo Ohio 

January 21: A Novel Menagerie
(with interview!)

January 26: Catootes
(with guest blog!)

January 27: Bloody Hell, It's a Book Barrage!

February 12: She Is Too Fond of Books
(with guest blog on indie bookstores)

Plus some extra reviews from other readers:

Morbid Romantic

We want to thank the wonderful bloggers who took the time to read and review Breathing Out the Ghost. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and it was fun to be a part of the several guest posts Kirk was invited to contribute. To Anna, Ramya, Amy, Serena, Becky, Michele (one L!), Melissa, Wendy, Jill, Tracey, Lilo, Ann, Sheri, Char, and Dawn: we salute. It's great to know there are honest, caring readers out there. We'll be sure to add any reviews that pop up from folks who won copies several of our hosts gave away. Special thanks to Lisa M. for introducing us to this fabulous network of folks!

TLC Book Tours

What is a virtual blog tour? It's a great opportunity for an author to meet readers in the real world of their tastes and interests. One of the more amazing Internet phenomena over the past few years has been the rise of these outlets, most written not by curmudgeonly old hacks with ink-stained fingertips and hatchets to grind but everyday people who simply love books. As newspapers and magazines shut down their book-reviewing sections, blog tours are becoming more and more central to getting novels into the hands of folks. 

We're very honored to have been invited to be a part of the TLC network by the wonderful Lisa Munley. All told, we'll be stopping by 15 different blogs before the month is out. So, without further adieu, please take a moment to visit our guest appearances and see what folks think of the book. In many cases, Kirk is doing interviews as well.

January 5: Diary of an Eccentric
It was announced today that Kirk's essay "The Best Cemetery in the South in which to Kiss a Woman" has won the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in the nonfiction category. The piece is about Montgomery's Oakwood Cemetery, the partial setting for the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story "The Ice Palace" (1920) and where Zelda Fitzgerald's parents are buried. The award will be presented November 22 in New Orleans.
BREAKING NEWS! (8/16/08)
Breathing Out the Ghost has won the 2008 Best Books of Indiana Award for Fiction sponsored by the
Indiana Center for the Book. The photo shows the obviously dazed and disbelieving Montgomery crew only moments after the announcement on Saturday, August 16. From r to l: River City Publishing managing editor Jim Gilbert, Kirk, bud and personal bartender David "Bubba" Burch (who plays a prominent role in the forthcoming Dixie Noir), and friend and fellow author Marlin Barton (whose novel The Cross Garden will be out in 2010).
Kirk's second novel, Dixie Noir, has been sold to Five Star Mysteries. It will be published in Fall 2009. From what we've seen of it, this is a very different book than Breathing Out the Ghost. "More guns and guacamole, less grief," the boss says. Hopefully, it'll have just as much alliteration! Stay tuned....
We'd be lying if we didn't admit that it's been a rough month around the office. In particular, we want to note the passing of three very influential people who were gone by the solstice:

1. George Garrett (6/11/1929-5/25/2008)
A top-notch writer, teacher, and longtime Fitzgerald enthusiast who was kind enough to blurb Breathing Out the Ghost even while ill.

2. Matthew J. Bruccoli (8/21/1931-6/4/2008)
The eminence grise of Fitzgerald studies who comissioned two of Kirk's books, Ernest Hemingway and the Expatriate Modernist Movement and
Alienated-Youth Fiction.

3. Dorothea Parker (5/12/1918-6/5/2008)
Kirk's grandmother (at right) and the inspiration for Sis Pruitt's mother in Ghost. Her obit is
Breathing Out the Ghost has won a broze medal in the 
Independent Publishers Award (IPPY) for literary fiction.

Breathing Out the Ghost has placed in the top three of the Indie Excellence Awards in the category of general fiction. The book was also named finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the suspense/thriller category.

Breathing Out the Ghost has won an honorable mention nod in the Atlantic City Beach Book Festival.

Breathing Out the Ghost has been nominated for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in the category of literary fiction. Ghost is up against thirteen other finalists from a range of presses, including the Feminist Press, Other Press, and Novello Festival Press. Winners will be announced in May at BEA (BookExpo America).

A new short story about Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and the writing of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook appears in the May issue of MiPoesias, which is devoted to food. Readers can buy the issue from Amazon or download the PDF.

An essay by Kirk on empathic fiction appears in the Spring 08 issue of First Draft, the magazine of the Alabama Writers' Forum. The piece begins on page 9.

Kirk's review of Oscar Hijuelos appears in the new Cuban issue of
MiPoesias. Readers can buy the issue from Amazon or download the PDF.

Breathing Out the Ghost  has been selected as a "Highlighted Title" by
Independet Publisher, the "Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry." Independent Publisher is the same group that hands out the Independent Publisher Book Awards, better known as the IPPYs. 

Breathing Out the Ghost Book Launch at El Rey Burrito Lounge Feb. 24!

If you're in the Montgomery area at the end of the month, please join us at the one cool watering-hole in the Gump to celebrate (as best as we're allowed on a Sunday) the book's arrival in this world. El Rey's is located at 1031 E. Fairview Avenue next to the Capri Theater and across the street from the two Goth-looking mopers who're forever loitering outside Cafe Louisa. We'll be having good clean literary fun from 4 to 7 p.m. Clothing optional, natch. UPDATE: Now that the hangovers from the launch party have faded, we can post this link to pics of the debauchery.

Reader's Guide Now Available: River City has added a guide for Breathing Out the Ghost for book groups to its website. Click here for the scoop.

Key West Hemingway: Coming Soon

The University Press of Florida will publish a collection of essays on Hemingway's South Florida years (1928-1940), edited by Kirk with Gail Sinclair of Rollins College, in 2009. Among them will be a piece co-written with E. Stone Shiflet on the little-known Hemingway Esquire essay "The Sights of Whitehead Street."

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