Against The Country: A Novel
- Publish Date: 2015-01-06
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Ben Metcalf
Attention: For textbook, access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY VULTURE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR Against the Country is a gift for fans of Southern Gothic and metafiction alike. Set in the Virginia pines, and overrun with failed parents, racist sex offenders, cast-off priests, and suicidal chickens, this novel challenges literary convention even as it attacks our national myththat the rural naturally engenders good, while the urban breeds an inevitable sin.
In a voice both perfectly American and utterly new, Ben Metcalf introduces the reader to Goochland County, Virginiaa land of stubborn soil, voracious insects, lackluster farms, and horrifying treesand details one familys pitiful struggle to survive there. Eventually it becomes clear that Goochland is not merely the authors setting; it is a growing, throbbing menace that warps and scars every one of his characters lives.
Equal parts fiery criticism and icy farce, Against the Country is the most hilarious sermon one is likely to hear on the subject of our native soil, and the starkest celebration of the language our land produced. The result is a literary tour de force that raises the question: Was there ever a narrator, in all our literature, so precise, so far-reaching, so eloquently misanthropic, as the one encountered here?
Praise for Against the Country
Iconoclastic . . . Against the Country has obvious affinities to Southern Gothic, both in its voice and in the delight it takes in rural ignorance and grotesqueries. . . . [A] country cousin of David Foster Wallace.The New York Times Book Review
Exceptional in its verbal brilliance and conscientiousness, Against the Country involves us in a familys anguished and hilarious struggle against the strange dooms that seem peculiar to white rural America. This is a savage and gladdening novel.Joseph ONeill, author of Netherland and The Dog
Metcalfs unnamed narrator dazzles with his Puritan deadpan and capacious intellect, not to mention his double-barreled blasts of dark humor and wicked satire. . . . There are so many brilliant turns of phrase in Against the Country that its hard to choose favorites, but Metcalf is at his sharpest and most seductive when his antihero does more than blast and blame, when he steps outside his sermons to say something real. . . . Every note in every solo is sounded with exquisite perfection.Slate
Faulknerian . . . eccentric, magnificent Southern Gothic metafiction.Vanity Fair
Ben Metcalf is a brilliant writer, andAgainst the Countryis an ingenious and hilarious novel, a glittering, bitter celebration of how the lousiness of life can be redeemed in the hands (and mouth) of a top-shelf teller of lifes stories.Sam Lipsyte, author ofThe AskandThe Fun Parts
A daring conglomeration of every trick, swindle and gimmick possible using only ink and paper, a pulpwood imagination machine so finely and expertly wrought that it can take on Jefferson, Thoreau, the church, patriotism, race relations, sexual identity, J. D. Salinger, the myth of America and a thousand other targets . . . [Against the Country] is absolutely and completely worth all investment of time and effort, because it is an undeniably beautiful object, sharp as a new razor.NPR
One of the more necessaryand most eloquentexpressions of a distinctly American, provincial rage in some years.Flavorwire