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The New Valley

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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  263 ratings  ·  60 reviews
"Josh Weil’s debut book The New Valley has a sense of the notable on every page. This is the very rare but clear case of the sky being the limit for a young author."

– Jim Harrison, author of The English Major


The three linked novellas that comprise Fulbright-winner Josh Weil’s debut bring us into America’s remote and often unforgiving backcountry, and delicately open up th...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published (first published June 3rd 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 571)
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Casey
Wow, what a collection of novellas. The first one, "Ridge Weather" is one of the best pieces of fiction I have read in a very long time, period. The second novella, "Stillman Wing" is good, but I didn't love it as much as the first. Weil does some really interesting things with time in this piece - shifting to the past and into the future in a matter of a couple of sentences - so it's worth reading for that. The final novella, "Sarverville Remains" was a challenge to get into - it's a first pers...more
Todd
As with all the best short fiction, the three novellas that constitute The New Valley carry a weight disproportionate to their length. These stories give a voice to the lonely and disconnected that would otherwise remain mute among the force of change that moves the people and environment around them. In reading it, I more than once caught myself exhaling a long-held breath after a moment of tension or sadness had completely removed me from my immediate surroundings and into the hollow, ramshack...more
Marissa
Exquisite prose. Heartbreakingly real characters. A book that reminds me what I love about reading: immersion in another world as tangible as my own. And if you have a chance to meet the friendly, down-to-earth, fascinating, and sincere Josh Weil you're sure to come away feeling inspired.

Read an Interview With Writer Josh Weil: http://wordswithwriters.com/2010/04/1...
Tom
The first novella in collection, "Ridge Weather," is quite moving, superbly written. About a beef cattle rancher trying to deal with suicide of his father while also, among other things, caring for a stricken steer. Pitch-perfect control. Neither depressing nor sentimental; just achingly honest, with a number of quiet but captivating plot twists. Weil is a true talent.

****
Ok, finished, except for last piece, Sarverville Remains, which I quit 3 pgs in because I didn't have patience for the voice,...more
Paul
Of the three novellas that comprise The New Valley, the third is the longest and the best; the first is the shortest and the weakest. In fact, I'd argue that this first novella, Ridge Weather, is not even a novella but really just a long story. Weil introduces a few supporting characters along the way, but the shift in perspective is too much for such a short piece, and when those characters never factor in again it makes their appearance seem like an obligatory tactic to reveal something about...more
Stacey
Weil's collection of novellas is a lot of things: a book brimming with beautiful prose, a work that understands the vast importance of setting (the Virginia land that shapes the characters living in them), and features characters that live and breathe and stay in your heart long after their stories have ended on the page. But for me, it is primarily a book about heartbreaking loneliness and isolation, and Weil captures that emotion more intensely than perhaps any book I've read.

My only quibble i...more
Theresa
These three novellas explore the paradox of the value of loneliness and the deep hunger for connection. Weil depicts the interior life of each of three characters who would probably go unnoticed in the ordinary run of things. I found them engaging, moving, and thought-provoking.

Re-read the first of these three, "Ridge Weather". Beautifully constructed, no waste of words---a style I always prefer. Life stripped to the bare essentials. One character chooses life. One character chooses death.
The s...more
Linda Parks
Josh Weil draws you into his novellas, soulfully connecting you to each of his main characters with an easy manner ~ describing their lives in West Virginia in a beautifully haunting way. He takes these ordinary, outwardly simple lives and exposes the deep and extreme emotions hidden in each man's proud, guarded ways. Truly memorable writing ... an author I will be watching as I expect there's a lot more where this came from!
Mike
Impressive Debut fiction from an upcoming young author. Set in the Appalachian hill country, The New Valley is composed of three novellas centering on three lost and wounded men. Certainly not an "easy" book, but these men will stay with the reader for a long time.
Elena Passarello
This is a fantastic collection of three novellas, set in a pocket of southwestern Virginia. The first and third novellas are especially good.

Everybody go read this. Seriously.
Frances
The valleys of Virginia are not vastly populated. And yet they are inhabited by the complex and simple people of Josh Weil’s first book “The New Valley.” The debut contains three novellas. Each utterly distinct from the others despite the fact that they share the same locale.

In the fist novella, a man, Osby, has just lost his father. For years the two of them lived and worked side by side on their farm. They bred cattle and lived a controllable if not entirely contented life as bachelors in a ho...more
Patrick Faller
This collection of three novellas takes as its setting the tree-choked chute of land along the New River that cuts West Virginia from its parent state, and each of the novellas opens the door a little wider on the characters peopling this valley. The first and strongest novella, "Ridge Weather," works against the other two for its reliance on simple narrative and the use of setting to evoke the deep, soul-aching loneliness of its protagonist, Osby Caudill, whose life-long work raising cattle bec...more
Amber
After the first of the three novellas, I had to put this down for awhile because it made me so sad, and that wasn't what I needed at the moment. I picked it back up, and while it didn't get objectively less sad, it was really good. Josh Weil's brain must be a complex place, especially if he's the one who drew the tractor/human anatomy schematics in the space breaks of the second novella. The third novella should be as or more sad than the first two, but I felt relief when I came to it. It just d...more
Liz
Three compelling novellas written in gorgeous, detail-laden, almost old-fashioned prose. Although the novellas are all set in the small, economically-depressed towns of Virginia and West Virginia, I often felt as if I were reading about the people from my small town in Northern New York--I consider this a testament to Weil's writing. There's something familiar (and heartbreaking) about these characters and their struggles to overcome loneliness in an unforgiving environment. I loved every word....more
Hendecam
I would rate this set of novellas higher if the first two were as good as the last one. The last novella in this collection, 'Sarverville Remains,' is both the longest and the best out of the three. Each story is linked in subtle ways beyond the setting of the hill country in the Virginia/West Virginia area.

In the first story, a cattle rancher is left devastated and lost when his father commits suicide. While I enjoyed this one, it was a bit on the dull side for me. As for the second story, whi...more
Judy
A beautifully written set of three novellas set in rural Southwestern Virginia. Weil transports the reader to the hauntingly isolated landscape and in three stories, introduces you to equally isolated characters who live there.The feeling of lonliness is palpable. I met the author at the Southern Festival of Books last fall and heard him read from one of the novellas. For years, his family has had a cabin tucked away in these mountains he describes so well. He goes there to write...in isolation....more
Dree
Excellent set of 3 novellas. Loosely tied together by time and place. I thought each was my favorite as I read them. They do all have a similar feel--lonely men who don't fit in and don't understand those around them. Curiou to read more of this author's work--have no idea if that theme is his thing.

I sure wouldn't want to live in the Swain Valley, though perhaps the author feels everyone feels that way? Meaning lonely and confused. Would be a great book club book.
Elizabeth
This is three novellas all set in west virginia. The central character of each longs for human contact of some kind.

Osby's father committed suicide and leaves osby reevaluating his lot in life. Stillman has a grown daughter living with him, but fails to connect with her emotionally. And geoff is a manchild that cannot understand the betrayal he has suffered at the hands of a woman he believes to be his friend.

Well written and interesting characters.
Mark Lynn
I discovered Josh Weil's The New Valley last year. It is a collection of three character driven novellas. Each portrays an Appalachian man who is estranged from the world. While the reasons for their isolation differ, all three protagonists have experienced heartbreak, which Weil told me was a key force while he was writing the book. I interviewed him for my blog, The Revivalist: Word from the Appalachian South--http://therevivalist.info/josh-weil/
Chris
At a Skylight Books reading a couple of months ago, Josh Weil read from the third novella in this collection of three, and I was pretty blown away. "Sarverville Remains" is chilling, poignant, and told in a well-executed, effective form of West Virginian dialect. The other two novellas are sadly not as good. "Ridge Weather" establishes the setting of the collection well and has its touching moments, but "Stillman Wing" didn't do it for me at all.
Clifford
This collection of three novellas is terrific. They're all set in Southwestern Virginia and explore that landscape and the people (which seemed familiar, since I had just read Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, which is set nearby). Of the three, the most impressive is "Sarverville Remains," which is told from the point of view of a mildly retarded man who struggles to fit into society--one of my favorite subjects. Highly recommended.
Chris
There are three novellas here, the first and last of which were so good that I knew immediately after putting the book down that 1) I was going to dig this up on abebooks and get the hardback first edition and 2) I was going to read everything Josh Weil wrote again forever.

I could summarize plotty stuff for you, but really, shouldn't the above be enough. Don't be a jerk. Go read this book.
Allison
This isn't a book that transcends time and place, and it doesn't need to be. This is a book to convey a few stories of the sort of people who are often maligned, idealized, or ignored. It transcends stereotypes and gets to many universal issues of humanity, while remaining true to the culture, setting, and characters it represents. One I will keep and read again.
Laura
A very nice collection of novellas. Each story is a rendering of the best parts of the quiet, weathered, common people who have inhabited humblest Appalachia for generations. The beauty of the writing is Weil's respect for his characters and fondness for the land while maintaining a dogged dedication to accurately portraying the coarseness of both.
Alice
A collection of three connected novellas with compelling (if somewhat bleak) characters, evocative setting and unlikely plots that keep you reading. Some of the best new writing I've seen in a very long time. I will definitely want to see more from this writer.
Anne
I loved the tenderness with which Josh Weil treated these characters. I never felt as though he was manipulating them through a series of events. Instead, he seemed to hover lovingly over these isolated, lonely people as he would his own father or brother.
Hazel
What a first book! The writing is exquisite; the three novellas each have such finely drawn characters. Much like stories by Alice Munro, these three stories open up in unexpected ways, and reveal backgrounds totally unexpected.
Matt
I'm of two minds about this collection of three novellas: the first two, while competent and occasionally lyrical, really weren't for me. They were largely realistic, mostly interior portraits of solitary rural people. In the first, a young middle aged man emotionally struggles to adjust after the suicide of his father, and the ending worked because it was so surprising, given the general drift of the story till that point. The second featured an older man-- in his early to mid-seventies-- rebui...more
Tom Mueller
Jul 26, 2009 Tom Mueller rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Southern Lit
Weil's reader can practically smell and feel what his characters do. From the smell of a pasture, the heartache, insecurities and joy. His novellas collected in _The New Valley_ are set in his native Virginia.
James KEEGAN
The first novella is one if the most beautiful pieces I've ever read. The other two are also fine. Five stars for the first one alone--such a clear detailed quiet and poignant piece of writing! Bravo!
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Josh Weil is the author of the novel The Great Glass Sea, forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in July, 2014, and the novella collection The New Valley (Grove Atlantic, 2009).

A New York Times Editors Choice, The New Valley won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New Writers Award from the GLCA, and a “5 Under 35” Award from the National Book Founda...more
More about Josh Weil...
The Great Glass Sea

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“Ginny who lived her life with hair in the breeze, Stillman who lived his with it under his hat. And he loved her so much the worse for it.” 3 likes
“Osby wasn't considered the smartest man in Eads County. But the no one . . . knew him well enough to realize that he wasn't all that far from it either.” 1 likes
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