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Winner of the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction

Mixing pathos and humor in equal measure, East of Denver is an unflinching novel of rural America, a poignant, darkly funny tale about a father and son finding their way together as their home and livelihood inexorably disappears.

One of this summer's most pleasant surprises.-- Austin American-Statesman

A terrific first novel from a writer with a great sense of character.Booklist

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The first great psychedelic western of the 21st Century

It's 1975 and Johnny Riles is lonesome and drunk and he's weary of tending to his ranch. Johnny's younger brother is a pro basketball player and also an asshole. Toss in a poodle, a mysterious hole in the ground, and a dash of cocaine, and things gets weird.

... a rich and complex western that crosses over into the shady depths of noir fiction. It’s a stunning read.
--Sarah Reichert The Writing Bug

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Winner of the 2019 American Fiction Award for Literary Fiction

Narwhal Slotterfield's career as a corrupt basketball referee is interrupted when, on a road trip thru the Colorado High Plains, time comes to a complete stop. Trapped in an immobile universe, he has the miraculous choice to either focus myopically on himself or, as an unlikely superhero referee, to right the wrongs of the world. He manages to do both.

Zebra Skin Shirt ranks with the best of Vonnegut's mind-benders, but with more laughs page-for-page.
--Zach Boddicker, Author of The Essential Carl Mahogany

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Read my irregular column for my hometown newspaper, the Yuma Pioneer.
I'm too lazy to proofread; there will be typos.

Click here for reading-group guides to the Strattford County Yarns

 

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upcoming events

Nothing on the docket at the moment.
___

news

--October 12, 2019: The new editions of the books are finished.

Since my breakup with the latest publisher, I've re-formated, revised, re-covered, and reissued the Strattford County Novels on the newly-minted and mostly imaginary, Daisy Dog Press.

Since I don't know a thing about distribution, I dunno if these suckers will ever show up in actual bookstores. For better or worse, they're only available at online booksellers. In other words, Amazon.

NOTE: Since my old publisher is still selling their remaining stock of the books, I'm now competing with them on my own novels. So, prospective buyers, please choose the author-approved Daisy Dog Press editions over any of the other iterations.

--August 7, 2019: Two items...

1) Zebra Skin Shirt just won 2019 The American Fiction Award
for Literary Fiction.
2019 award sticker
2) For the next few months, I'll be re-vamping this site to reflect my newfound status as a free-agent. I'm re-designing the books, and doing various other whatsits.

--July 2019: At least I got custody of the kids
Approximately one year ago, Conundrum Press published all three of my Strattford County novels.

As of today, I've acheived a full divorce from Conundrum. And, in spite of the fact that I'm currently without a publisher (which means that, very soon, my books will be out of print), this divorce is fantastic news.

First, the rights to my works have reverted back to me. I have full custody, full stop.

Second, I'm writing again. For the past couple of years, I'd found it very hard to want to write. But now I'm back, and my next book is finally starting to emerge from the sludgepit that is my brain.

Fuck yeah.

--June 2019: I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'....
For the past several months, I've been sipping my way thru Thomas Pynchon's paranoid freak-out multi-dimensional interdisciplinary bookbrick, Gravity's Rainbow. And so it's oddly coincidental that--and I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'--it's kinda, uh, weird that Zebra Skin Shirt recently received a review at the old Omni-mall (that'd be Amazon; buy local, dammit) written by someone who calls himself Tom Ruggles. Here's a snip:

Hill can crack open the awe inside the routinely ignored corners of existence, so the desolate and forgettable setting transforms into another character, full of hidden depths. Taking a walk with the ref then becomes a sporting challenge to reimagine the ordinary.

As Zebra Skin Shirt throws out all expectations it can sometimes feel as if it's out to trick you, but its underlying intent is always playful, like snipe hunting with your favorite uncle.

Even in the twists and turns of the Möbius-strip finale, it’s impossible to tell whether you just experienced a throwaway joke or a fleeting glimpse of an essential truth
.

The, uh, weirdness is composed of two parts:

1) Somebody gets it.
2) The full name of the aforementioned author of Gravity's Rainbow is: Thomas Ruggles Pynchon.

I'm just sayin'.

--May 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt is a finalist for the
Forward Indie Awards

forward finalist


--May 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt is a finalist for the
National Indie Excellence Awards

NIEA seal

--April 2019: Zebra Skin Shirt is a finalist for the
Da Vinci Eye Award (for cool book covers)
da vinci eye award

--April 2019: KGNU Bookclub interview
Part one, which includes an excellent discussion of the Strattford Novels as well as a debate on the pronunciation of the word zebra

Part two, which includes a discussion about piles of cow corpses

--October 25, 2018: Reddit Ask Me Anything
Archived Here

--July 18, 2018: Tattered Cover book launch video, courtesy of Mark Stevens:



--July 15, 2018: Mark Steven interview and review of Zebra Skin Shirt
"Zebra Skin Shirt is Jack Kerouac on amphetamines. It’s Proust on meth. It’s James Joyce on nitrous oxide. It’s Lewis Carroll after smoking a bowl of The Blue Dream."
Read it in its entirety here.

--June 1, 2018: The Zebra Skin Shirt and the East of Denver Audiobooks are now available! Recorded at Sparky the Dog Studios! Ten bucks!

And, because I could, I recorded a seven-and-a-half-hour score to accompany the Zebra Skin Shirt audiobook. In my neverending efforts to assemble the largest catalog of music by any human on Earth, I have turned that score into two collections* of improvisation/noodling/ambient noise that you can listen to while reading the printed version of the book when it comes out in July.

Preview 'em, as well as several other, more musical recordings from Sparky the Dog Records by clicking right over there------------------->

*There's the eighty-minute version that fits on one CD as well as a five-hour verson, just for masochists.

--March 15, 2018: Future Rural Achive Vol. 4: The M12 organization has published their latest offering in their series of quasi-academic, art-of-the-rural anthologies. This one (sort of) focuses on small-town museums. It includes my short story, "Now Museum, Now You Don't", as well as Erin Harper's screenplay adaptation, which will be made into a film just as soon some generous soul deposits a few dollars into her coffers (hint, hint).
You can order the book here, or ask for a copy next time you see me.
future rural archive

--If you enjoy my stuff, I encourage you to read Zach Boddicker's debut novel, The Essential Carl Mahogany, published by Last Chance Press.

With bands such as Drag the River and 4H Royalty, Zach has been a fixture in Colorado music for years. Turns out he's also a hell of a writer.

Zach invited me to write a blurb and I did so gladly: With internal dialogue to match Nick Hornby at his best (see High Fidelity), and external dialogue that's reminiscent of early Don Delillo (see Great Jones Street, possibly the only musician-novel that I dare compare to this one), author Zach Boddicker has crafted an elegant, oddball, and unapologetically funny tale of ex-Nashville, ex-famous, and ex-boyfriend Carl Mahogany and his existential mission to recover his soul in a tumbleweed junction on the Great Plains of eastern Colorado. Rarely have I seen so much wit mingle so comfortably with such an honest portrayal of rural America's anarchic spirit.

mahogany

An animated version of an early draft I did for the
Zebra Skin Shirt
book cover:

zebra skin hsirt
(it's made out of wood)

 

FFFF

--September 2, 2016: Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest
9:00 pm, Oriental Theater at 44th and Tennyson, Denver
I'll be rocking and reading at the Oriental Theater, along with several other authors and musicians for the second annual Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest, as hosted by High Fiction. It was a blast last year, and it'll be even more blasty this year.
9:00 pm, Oriental Theater at 44th and Tennyson.

--July 28, 2016: Novel #3: My new book, Zebra Skin Shirt, is finished. Taking place over the course of ten minutes on the same day that East of Denver ends, the story provides a nutsoid conclusion to The Strattford Trilogy.

Zebra Skin Shirt will be published in the autumn of 2017 by Conundrum Press, based in Golden, Colorado. I remain grateful to the good people at Leapfrog Press who published The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles and who never once tried to turn the book into something it wasn't. In moving to Conundrum, I'm able to fulfill a longtime ambition of working with a publisher based in Colorado. [UPDATE, August 10, 2019: Well, that didn't work out.]

--July 23, 2016: Interview: Michelle LeJeune has posted what might be the kookiest interview I've done (so far) at her excellent blog, broad.

--May 23-25, 2016: Artist-In-Residence at the M12 space in Byers, CO: Thanks to M12 for inviting me stay in the bunk house where I was able to write some words and pretend I'm an artist.

Wood Guy

--March 24, 2016: KGNU Interview: Here's a more-or-less coherent interview conducted by KGNU's terrific Maeve Conran and Arsen Kashkashian of the Boulder Bookstore: KGNU Radio Bookclub

--November 9, 2015: Colorado Matters Interview
Click here to listen to the CPR interview wherein I try to explain to Nathan Heffel why a bouncing screw is the perfect anology for my approach to plotting.

--October 30, 2015: So you think Johnny Riles is implausible? A few stories that may blow your freaking mind (assuming you've read The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles, which, if you haven' t done, I suggest you do posthaste).

The man who killed John Wilkes Booth went crazy, lived in a hole in the ground and used a pair of scissors to render himself unable to reproduce.

A guy digs up a wooly mammoth on his Michigan farm.

Pre-human hominoid remains discovered in suspiciously familiar underground cavern.

Weirdo digs underground bunker.

(Thanks to Marrion, Betty, Maureen, and Tony for the leads.)

--June 14, 2015: Best seller. In the week of its release, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles was the Denver area's best selling paperback fiction title.

--June 4, 2015: The book has been launched. Thanks to everyone for coming out for a terrific event. And thanks to Mark Stevens for capturing the video...

--May 29, 2015: I've finished the Johnny Riles audio book. Listen to the first third of the book for free or download the whole thing from Bandcamp for just $10. I do not have plans to release it on CD.



-- December, 2013: The New York Times likes the East of Denver cover art.
Best Book Covers of 2013.

-- June, 2013: East of Denver receives the 2013 Colorado Book Award for literary fiction.

-- February, 2013: East of Denver has been optioned for film development by Erin Harper.
Erin produced the 2012 Sundance selection, My Best Day. Erin grew up in eastern Colorado, forty miles north of my hometown.





 
 

 

 

 

 

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