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Soil: A Novel by Jamie Kornegay
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Soil: A Novel

by Jamie Kornegay

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The things I liked about this book, I really liked. Loved even. Kornegay is a fabulous writer. His word choices are spot on. The main character's decent into paranoia is fascinating and the setting the author creates is haunting and real. I got bogged down in the middle but plowed on intrigued enough to wonder about the ending. By the end of the story, I despised every single character and felt there was no resolution. I prefer a little grit in a tale, and I don't like a nice, neat ending, but by the end of this book I mostly felt annoyed. Of course, maybe that was the author's intention. ( )
  TBoerner | Mar 22, 2017 |
A paranoid man + Global warming +Minor Flood = one incredibly, painfully boring book. It is books like this, that get a ton of press and praise, that turn people off from reading. ( )
  zmagic69 | Apr 8, 2016 |
A debut novel in the best tradition of the literary Southern Gothic, this dark tragicomedy held me in a dreadful grip right to the end. ( )
  MsRoux | Mar 21, 2016 |
there are more than a few areas where Soil shines, from the highly detailed description of the land and surroundings of a Mississippi flood basin, to the dark, Southern gothic miasma that leaves a film over each chapter.

As debuts go, Jamie Kornegay has displayed a refined talent for writing, and I look forward to watching this author grow. His writing at times reminded of Faulkner, but where Faulkner would leave spaces that challenged the reader's capacity to understand the meaning, Jamie Kornegay left me with more questions than answers. Highly recommended

Read the complete review on The Thugbrarian Review @ http://wp.me/p4pAFB-v2 ( )
  Archivist13 | Jul 28, 2015 |
3.5 stars

I just read a book called Judging a Book by Its Lover, in which Lauren Leto provides five-word slogans to summarize books by a variety of classic and contemporary authors. (My favorite: William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury = "Dilsey saved all their asses.") My five-word summary of Jamie Kornegay's Soil? Crime and Punishment in Mississippi.

To be fair, Kornegay expects the comparison; at one point, we learn that our protagonist, Jay Mize, has "a dog-eared Dostoevsky" on his bookshelf. Unlike Raskolnikov, however, Jay hasn't actually killed anyone, so his building paranoia, lacking any grounding in a guilty conscience, appears to be the product of mental illness. Narratives about the mentally ill can be interesting, as Soil is, but they generally do not lead the reader to identify with or inhabit the skin of a character in the way that great literature does. At bottom, Soil doesn't ask anything of the reader; it is the reading equivalent of an episode of Hoarders.

The reader's attempt to relate to Jay is further hampered by a massive sub-plot in which one of Jay's suspected pursuers, Sheriff's Deputy Danny Shoals, falls in lust with Jay's estranged wife Sandy. (The explanation for Shoals's vanity license plate, SUGAR, is particularly cringe-inducing.) While Shoals's pursuit of his wife does lend credence to Jay's advancing paranoia, Kornegay could have accomplished his purpose without all of the details about Shoals's sexual proclivities.

At the beginning of the book, we are charmed by Jay's obsession with the soil, with his desire to create the best environment in which to grow food after what he sees as the coming environmental apocalypse. By the end, however, we are merely dispassionate observers of a crumbling mind.

TRIGGER WARNING: Dogs were killed during the writing of this book.

I received a free copy of Soil through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  BrandieC | Mar 10, 2015 |
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Not in his right mind after his wife and son leave him, environmental scientist Jay Mize discovers a corpse on his property and, believing that he is being framed, tries to dispose of the body without telling the authorities.

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