Tuesday 26 September 2017


A couple this week from Rusty Barnes


Barnes is a poet, novelist and editor and runs the blogazine site Tough

Tough provides a paid outlet for short story writers as well as the odd-review and is well-worth checking in on every so often. Click here to view.

I've enjoyed Rusty's work before - Ridgerunner back in 2016. I've heard rumours of a follow up in the making, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for it.

I'm not a massive fan of poetry, but his two books - Mostly Redneck and Reckoning sang out to me. Rusty was kind enough to offer me a copy of each of these, but unfortunately the US Postal Service managed to destroy the parcel in transit. Happily I now have them in my collection.

Rusty Barnes has his website here.    
He's on Facebook here.

Mostly Redneck (2011)

Fiction. In MOSTLY REDNECK, Rusty Barnes expounds on his upbringing in disadvantaged rural northern Appalachia to deliver a mastery of country idiom and setting. In one minimalist story after another, he gives perspective and breadth to the widely misunderstood world of a people who still hunt for food, occasionally join their neighbors for church, and sometimes enjoy it when their city kin step in cow shit.


"It's not unusual these days to find folks who can write a gleaming sentence, a beautiful paragraph, a shapely scene: a multitude of MFA programs have seen to that. Rusty Barnes gives us the lovely language, sure, but he uses it to burn a hole through the apparent world, and to show us the world within the world that is thus revealed. Rusty Barnes can really see, and he teaches us to see as well, gimlet-eyed and unafraid. What a gift!"
     —Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy & Other Stories

"These razor-sharp stories are gems that give us tough and tender characters who represent the best and worst of us, in prose so sharp and inventive that we're shown a sky 'the color of an old dog's mouth' and discover Saddam Hussein selling hot cashews near Faneuil Hall. Mostly Redneck is a lovely, raw collection about the wondrous nature of everyday life in all its beauty and ugliness."
     —Silas House, author of Eli the Good

Reckoning (2014)

Richard Logan begins his summer day as any fourteen-year-old might: working a farm job bringing in hay, avoiding his hard-headed father, and hanging out with his friends. When he stumbles onto an unconscious woman in the woods, he has no idea that the process of helping her will lead him into the darkness of the deeply held deceits of his rural Appalachian town. Both brutal and beautiful, Reckoning shows the seams and limits of family love and community tolerance while Richard discovers where manhood truly lies.

"Rusty Barnes's long-awaited first novel doesn't disappoint. It's an action-and-suspense-filled story of growing up in the hills of Pennsylvania, where life is hard and often dangerous. The love story of Richard and Katie is honest, rich, and artfully told. This is an impressive debut novel."
     —Thomas Cobb, author of Crazy Heart and With Blood in Their Eyes

"Rarely can a writer ratchet up a story's tension as relentlessly as Rusty Barnes does in Reckoning, a beautifully told and almost painfully suspenseful novel in which the stakes couldn't be higher. I loved this book."

     —John M McManus, author of Bitter Milk


  1. Both sound good, Col, though RECKONING a bit more than the other.

    1. Prashant, cheers. I don't think I have a favourite between the two TBH.

  2. That's a fascinating part of the country, Col, geographically, culturally, and more. I'll be very interested in what you think of these books.

    1. I think so too, Margot. Reading them soon(ish) I hope!

  3. I might have to try one of these because of the setting. Maybe the short stories would be a good start.

  4. Col – I’ve just recently come across Rusty Barnes. MOSTLY REDNECK is now on the list.

    1. Elgin, I hope you can find a reasonably priced copy. I'm looking forward to them both.