Darlin’ Neal

“Darlin’ Neal’s book [Rattlesnakes and the Moon] is the literary equivalent of a Lucinda Williams music album: achingly lovely homages to heartbreak and hard times, sung by a voice rich with whiskey, soaked in insight. An absolutely stellar performance.” –Antonya Nelson

“A collection as gritty, sharp and luminous as a Walker Evans photograph. Darlin’ Neal has found the passion and the poetry in lives that might at first glance seem ordinary. A really beautiful debut.” –Kevin Canty

“These are dark stories lit by headlights and lightning, fluorescent signs and tall highway lights, tough stories so real that they have the scent of the lived-through about them, which is testament to Darlin’ Neal’s extraordinary gift for prose and story. Wonderful stories told with authority and great tenderness–a stunning performance.” –Frederick Barthelme

More about the book:

NPR interview (10/22/11)

“Just as the title Elegant Punk promises, this is a collection full of contrasts, surprises, and strange revelations. Embedded in the gritty realism, there is poetry of the highest order, and grace is splashed all over the commonplace. High passion, silliness, cosmic shifts, and acute psychological insights are rendered up in Darlin’ Neal’s prose so seamlessly and intensely she makes it look easy. You won’t forget these characters, and there’s not a story here you won’t want to finish after you’ve read its first sentence.” — Laura Kasischke, author of The Raising: A Novel
“Darlin’ Neal’s stories mostly come to us in pieces—shards and splinters: people angry, dispossessed, struggling in the badlands and swampy climes at the margins of an America gone soulless and mean. Yet hers is a prose both lyrical and smart, no small triumph given what’s galvanized her attention. Do yourself a favor: You’ll be better off for having these tales between your ears.” — Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories
“If Raymond Carver had lived to write flash fiction, he might have written something a lot like Elegant Punk. Neal’s stories are little starbursts of ferocity and heartache. Just when you think you have to look away, they make you laugh a bit, make you cock your head with intrigue, and draw you right back in. Taken together, these tales, like much of Carver’s work, convince the reader there’s no amount of punishment that the human spirit, plucky thing, cannot withstand. — Ron Currie author of Everything Matters!: A Novel

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