"Gritty, ghostly, poetic [...] I'd bet a fifth of the top-shelf stuff it will be considered one of the best debuts of the year." —Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table
Jordan is a country musician living in the shadow of his father, legendary bluegrass musician Walker Bayne.
A man who has made a lifetime of poor decisions, Jordan bounces between dive bars, accruing women and drinking himself to the brink of disaster. When he returns home to the Ozarks for his twin brother's wedding, Jordan uncovers a dark vein in the Bayne family history: going back to the end of the Civil War, every generation of Bayne men have been twins—and one twin has always murdered their father.
As old tensions resurface and Jordan searches for a way to escape his family's legacy, a mysterious hill dweller and his grotesque partner stalk the brothers' every move, determined to see the curse through to its end. Praised by Donald Ray Pollock as "one of the best debuts of the year," Middleton establishes himself as a novelist in good company with Brian Panowich and Smith Henderson, yet in a category all his own.
“Reminiscent of the hillbilly noir of Daniel Woodrell, Middleton kicks up the violent secrets of generations of Baynes and their genetic legacy of twins and patricide [. . .] A vivid novel of an Ozark family bearing generations of twin sons with a legacy of violence that casts understanding light on their fatalistic darkness.” –Shelf Awareness
“A well-carved story of a family’s curse, as brittle and grotesque as any works in the vein of Faulkner or O’Connor [. . .] A subversive twist on Southern myth that’s surprisingly rich in its execution.” –Kirkus
“From the get-go, Middleton grabs readers with an eerie dream about a violent death, a portent of things to come in his page-turning debut about a family’s curse.” –Publishers Weekly
“The devil didn’t go down to Georgia, he went to Arkansas, where the Bayne family struggle against Beelzebub’s grip on their collective fates. Middleton’s ferocious debut has it all–sex, song, sadness, and a history as dark and twisted as the Ozark hollers that fill these pages. Holy hell, what a book.” –Peter Geye, author of Wintering
“Gritty, ghostly, poetic, Darkansas is sure to appeal to fans of William Gay and Shirley Jackson. I’d bet a fifth of the top-shelf stuff it will be considered one of the best debuts of the year.” –Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table
“A mesmerizing debut [. . .] There is a dark magic in Middleton’s prose that is impossible to resist.” –Jonathan Evison, New York Times best-selling author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
“Middleton’s lush writing creates an atmosphere both beautiful and horrific. A grand debut that pushes the limits of ‘Southern Gothic’ and delivers an engrossing story of family, love, and fate.” –Kathi Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR
“Middleton’s brilliant debut is a vivid, haunting page-turner in the American gothic tradition.” –Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“A slow burn [. . .] Before you know it you can’t put it down. A barbed meditation on fear, family, and the monstrousness of fate.” –Brian Evenson, author of Last Days
“Darkansas croons a bloody and beautiful ballad . . . like Tom Waits scribbled it on cocktail napkins.” –Joshua Mohr, author of Sirens and Fight Song
“A delicious blend of the gritty reality inherent in dysfunctional family relationships and the magical realism of small towns in the mythic ‘deep south’ [. . .] You can practically hear Ry Cooder’s guitar licks playing in the background.”–Paul Hanson, Village Books, Bellingham, WA
“Reminiscent of the works of Larry Brown and Rick Bass; richly drawn, refreshing, and authentic [. . .] An innovative literary voice that I look forward to following for decades to come.” –Nickolas Butler, author of The Hearts of Men
Jarret Middleton is the author of the novella An Dantomine Eerly. He was the founding editor of Dark Coast Press and the classics library Pharos Editions, an imprint of Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. His fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Shelf Awareness, The Quarterly Conversation, The Weeklings, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Collagist, SmokeLong Quarterly, and HTMLGIANT, as well as appearing in the print anthologies The Breadline Anthology; Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices; and In Heaven, Everything is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch. He lives in Seattle with his wife.