Like many people, I read the blurbs on a book before opening it for the first time. Most blurbs are written by well-known authors in the genre, and heap praise on the author, their writing, their previous efforts, or the blurb-writer’s pleasure in reading the book. The blurbs on the cover of Praying Drunk, by Kyle Minor, accomplish these goals also, but by way of warning the reader that the journey on which they are about to embark will not be an easy one. Kyle Minor’s collection of short stories is tied together, not by theme or narrative flow, but instead by a fierce commitment to the characters’ journey, wherever it may take them–for good, evil, comedy, or most often tragedy. It’s a collection of stories that leaves you better for having traveled through it with the author.
The stories are meant to be read in order; the author warns us in the epigraph that it is a novel, not a collection. DO NOT SKIP AROUND is in capitals. This is important because characters weave and dip in and out of the stories, sometimes appearing briefly, sometimes later embodying a perspective shift in a later story.
Reading praying drunk is a visceral experience. One story had me gasping out loud in shock, followed within seconds by another shocked utterance. His writing hits hard, and leaves a mark.