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Night Soil

2.80  ·  Rating details ·  71 ratings  ·  25 reviews
The first novel in 10 years by critically acclaimed author Dale Peck is a coming-of-age story about Judas, a gay teenager in the south. It is also an expansive take on the personal and the political, in which the legacies of racial exploitation in the years after the civil war, the big money of the contemporary art world, family secrets, sexual explorations, and ecological ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Soho Press
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Average rating 2.80  · 
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 ·  71 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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2.5 / 5 stars

Let's get one thing clear—I am way too stupid to accurately judge or critique Night Soil . That being said, it is a beautifully told and intelligently written fiction novel, focusing on racism, sexuality, family, and contemporary art. The story is told by Judas Stammers, son of artist/potter Dixie Stammers. The duo live in an overcrowded apartment until Dixie is discovered by art aficionados and her career begins to soar. Judas suffers from physical abnormalities and an
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, favorites
This book took me completely by surprise. I’ve never read Martin and John, but Dale Peck has always been on my radar as a gay author of note. So when Night Soil came out, I was sufficiently intrigued to give it a bash – curious especially as to why the reviews have been so polarising, on Goodreads and in the mainstream media.

This Southern Gothic potboiler unravels the tortured history of a famous family, its legacy and dark past, in a mother/son relationship. The son has a symbolic
Brett Benner
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
“ A working class dithyrambs peppered with tautologies and sesquipedalia verbs and the bloviated self confidence that what he’s saying is true because he’s the one saying it.”
I post this strictly to illustrate how Peck, whose previous books I’ve loved, feels so overwritten that I found myself moving between book and dictionary like I was translating it rather than reading. The young gay Jude, disfigured by a horrible wine colored stain that covers nearly half his body relays a coming of age
Loring Wirbel
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my first experience reading Dale Peck, an author with a wide-ranging reputation in the LGBTQ community for both fiction and essays. It is obvious in reading segments from this brief novel that Peck is one of the true masters of using language. The expertise reveals itself not only in the descriptions of the (occasional) narrator Judas Stammers, but in the historical descriptions of how the Stammers family converted a mid-19th-century mine in the Tennessee River Valley into an odd sort of ...more
Lethe Press
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Oh, how much I wanted to enjoy this book. I began with a certain appreciation for the voice of it's protagonist, Judas. But the more pages I turned, the more the style of the book - a bit stream of consciousness a bit meandering narration, became so intrusive to reader pleasures. Peck may be a much-lauded author, with many awards earned, but I became convinced he had devised a book as a test for a reader...and I do not believe I wanted to be one of those so judged. Maybe he created a new ...more
Blake Fraina
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
There are some novels that make you feel and others that make you think. For me, the work of Dale Peck always falls squarely into the latter category. Night Soil is no exception.

It’s the story of Judas Stammers, son of Dixie, a self-taught potter who becomes the darling of the art world by making a series of clay pots that are all perfectly formed and identical spheres – completely by hand. Unlike Dixie’s flawless pots, Judas is marked with a port wine stain that covers half his body, causing
Rambling Reader
Torn between 2 or 3 stars, this is an odd, upsetting novel. I’m not sure if I like this one as Dale Peck can be a polemical writer.
This was a DNF at about 97% - it just got to the point where I didn't care enough to find out what happened at the end.
Sami Perkins
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story- beautiful language. I love the imagery in this book. Glad I took the chance and picked this one up.
Clay Olmstead
Jan 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is supposed to be literature, but all I see is an overblown, overwritten, pretentious pile of crap. I feel the worse for having read the first couple of chapters (and trying to decipher the last chapter; it got worse). I would give this disgusting mess negative stars if I could.
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
Judas Stammers lives a peaceful life with his mother. He does not know anything about his father; only when he dies and leaves him masses of books and money does he actually notice this person. His mother is a potter and to their astonishment, her pots sell for an unbelievable amount of money that they actually do not need since their ancestors were coal magnates and founders of the Academy, a private school that also Judas attends. His mother often leaves him alone and the fact of being an ...more
TammyJo Eckhart
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting something paranormal but instead I got is an intense, dark, and dirty coming of age story about Judas Stammers, a deformed boy who is struggling with not just his body but his mother and their greater family history.

The "intensity" comes primarily from Judas' emotional reactions to his life and the people around him. Nothing is ever "just" it is always a driving force in his mind. The "dark" comes in their family history and the
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
a lot happening here that a better (more critical, more curious, better-informed) reader would appreciate - there's depth and weirdness and lots of ideas, pursued like Theseus's ball of yarn or whatever unspooling into an unknown. the book was fascinating to read and never knowing what the next page or even line would bring made it difficult to put down. i'm looking forward to reading others' thoughts on it. also there is a lot of satisfaction in a queer coming-of-age story that is not about ...more
Prasant N
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting in moments. Enjoyed last section greatly. Had seeds of ideas that could have been interesting but they seems to have randomly got slapped together.

Tedious, confusing and pretentious in many spots. Hard to get through for such a short book.

Gave it an extra star for ambition...even if I didn’t fully understand what the ambition was.
Jee Koh
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most enjoyable. A family saga, a coming-out story, an environmentalist critique. The idea of turning dirt into gold, in the form of identical and perfect pots, is profoundly poetic. And then the parable at the end, which opens up an abyss below any human choice. I won't easily forget the image of Judas Stammers skewered by dicks in the restroom.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
I couldn’t get too into this book, and wish I had a dictionary by my side whenever I picked it up. I lost the arc of the story when I was busy to just figure out what the author was trying to say. Glad to see this book was well received by others, but not what I was expecting so I just put it down.
Debra Kaplan
Nov 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I just couldn't get through the first chapter with the pretentious style. Stream of consciousness style can be tough enough without needing a thesaurus for every other word. It seems like an interesting premise, but you'd need more patience than I have to get to the plot.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I can appreciate the craft and care this book was written with but I didn’t like it. I know, I know, it is a just me thing and that is ok.
What I mainly want to say is this book is not for me, maybe for you, but definitely not for me.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Maybe I'm just not intelligent enough to understand this book, but I couldn't get through it. 40% done, and I don't really think that I had a firm grasp on what was happening. I'm a bit sad that I'm missing my book club's discussion!
Becky Spratford
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I reviewed this for my ALA Annual 2018 Booklist Read ’N’ Rave Panel. Details:
Jonathan Giammaria
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: would-reread
I need to return to this book immediately and annotate the shit out of it.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Ugh. Too much rambling. May be too literary for my tastes. Just didn't care for it at all.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Strangest fucking book I’ve read!
Peggy Rothschild
rated it did not like it
Sep 09, 2018
Zack Hansen
rated it liked it
Sep 01, 2018
rated it really liked it
Nov 16, 2019
Timothy Kelley
rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2019
Kelly McMichael
rated it liked it
Jan 03, 2019
rated it it was ok
Oct 21, 2018
rated it it was ok
May 05, 2019
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Dale Peck (born 1967 on Long Island, New York) is an American novelist, critic, and columnist. His 2009 novel, Sprout, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children's/Young Adult literature, and was a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award in the Children's and Young Adult Literature category.