Mike Ingram's Reviews > Growing Up Dead in Texas

Growing Up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones
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Jul 13, 2012

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Read from July 09 to 13, 2012

Great evocation of place, which I always appreciate, and the book does some really interesting stuff playing with and blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction. Has the feel of a book the author had to write, was compelled to write, which gives it an immediate energy.

At times, though, that same narrative energy can give the novel a disjointed, discombobulated feel. To some degree I think this is intentional, as it mirrors the narrator's own disjointed process of investigating, and coming to terms with, the series of tragedies that befell his hometown. But I also found myself getting lost in some of the digressions and time leaps, and feeling like maybe the book hadn't quite settled on an overarching narrative strategy.

Best bits, for me, were when Stephen Graham Jones/"Stephen Graham Jones" was present on the page, because that first-person voice was strong and engaging, and it served to anchor the often-meandering narrative. When that voice recedes--a number of the book's sections are imaginative reconstructions of events SGJ wasn't there for--things can feel a bit unmoored.

Definitely going to check out some more SGJ books--dude is enviably prolific--as he wasn't a writer I was familiar with until our nonfiction editor at Barrelhouse tapped him for our recent crime issue.

More here: Book Fight Podcast Episode 12: Stephen Graham Jones
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