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Book Suggestions for NYTBR Readers

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If you’re here for the first time because you read about Praying Drunk in the April 27 edition of the New York Times Book Review, I hope to use the good fortune of your brief attention to point you in the direction of thirteen new (and newish) books I think you might enjoy as much as I did:

1. The Virgins, by Pamela Erens (a novel) (author’s website)

2. The Transcriptionist, by Amy Rowland (author’s Twitter)

3. The Big Smoke, by Adrian Matejka (author’s website)

4. Wynne’s War, by Aaron Gwyn (author’s Twitter)

5. Loteria, by Mario Alberto Zambrano (author’s website)

6. Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill (author’s website)

7. The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison (author’s website)

8. Americanah, by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie (author’s website)

9. East of the West, by Miroslav Penkov (author’s website)

10. Demon Camp, by Jennifer Percy (author’s Twitter)

11. Lay It on My Heart, by Angela Pneuman (author’s Twitter)

12. Thrown, by Kerry Howley (author’s website)

13. Saint Monkey, by Jacinda Townsend (author’s website)

Radio Interview at KBOO Portland


I talked with David Naimon at KBOO Portland last month, and the podcast is streaming now. Here’s the link.

New Interview in Buzzfeed


I enjoyed this conversation with Michele Filgate, at Buzzfeed. We talked about sheep and goats, the lake of fire, plate tectonics, violence as not-metaphor, the Port-O-Lets at the circus with the good time numbers scrawled in black Sharpie marker, Vermeer in Bosnia, the defective replicant robot in a near-future Kentucky, the neurotoxin in the starfruit, slavery and the Southern Baptists, and the dangerous telling of the secrets.

Praying Drunk, Etc. (Quick Links)


bio & headshot:

praying drunk zero dollar tour dates:

praying drunk review compendium in pdf:



tumblr: (not very active)

get a copy of praying drunk at: indieboundamazonbarnes & noblepowells, or target.

read a review of praying drunk at: boston globelos angeles timeselectric literaturekirkus reviewsminneapolis-st paul star-tribune.

read an excerpt of my novel-in-progress the sexual lives of missionaries.

read an interview about praying drunk at: the believertin househobartfiction writers review, buzzfeed.

read a transcript from q&a w/ jason diamond at community bookstore in brooklyn. part one. part two.

read other recent short pieces at: the atlantic (on alice munro)esquire (on election day in iowa), salon (on alice munro)the new york times book review (on d.w. wilson).

check out this downloadable jpg rumpus horn review of praying drunk:


New York Times and Barnes & Noble


Two Good Things:

1. The New York Times asked me to review D.W. Wilson’s Once You Break a Knuckle for the Sunday Book Review. Here’s the link.

2. A brief conversation with Amy Butcher, at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog.

Three New Interviews: The Believer, Tin House, and Hobart

Believer_logo_octMatt Bell, most patient of interviewers (and for many years now, my good friend and one of my best and most helpful readers), engaged me with questions for several days, about Praying Drunk, and about many other things, too: Haiti, fundamentalism, John Cheever, work, ecstatic fantasies about heaven, plenty more. The result is a very comprehensive interview, and I’m proud that The Believer hosted it. Here is the link: “To Rage Against Meaninglessness: An Interview with Kyle Minor.”


Another longtime literary friend, Andrew Ervin, author of Extraordinary Renditions, provoked a conversation about how sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell, and so on. There’s also a picture of our poorly attended sock-puppet production of Sartre’s No Exit mashed up with Rocky IV“A Correction of the Untruths I Was Told as a Child About How the World Works: An Interview with Kyle Minor.”


One more newly published conversation with a friend, Douglas Watson, author of The Era of Not Quite, who has for ten years served as my first reader for everything important, before I send it into the world. We talked almost a year ago, and it’s interesting to see how time has worked on the book. I very much enjoyed this conversation: “An Interview with Kyle Minor.”




publishers-weekly flavorwire vol1_brooklynLatimes-logochicago-tribune-logo-black
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“Similar to a great magic trick, the 13 stories in Minor’s (In the Devil’s Territory) latest lure reader investment with strong visuals while simultaneously pulling the rug out from underfoot with clever, literary sleights–of-hand. Though not necessarily linked in the traditional sense, there is a sequential order to the collection—ideas, locations, incidents, and characters echo as the volume chugs forward—and the result is an often dazzling, emotional, funny, captivating puzzle.” – Publishers Weekly

“The beauty of Praying Drunk is that it transcends suffering to evoke the sublime.” - Los Angeles Times

“Before the clock strikes midnight to close the book on 2013, we’re going to make the prediction that 2014 will be the year when literary folk won’t be able to stop talking about Kyle Minor’s masterfully written collection of stories.” - Flavorwire

“[Kyle] Minor mauls you with his vicious prose, and then takes your hand and asks you to join him in a form of prayer.” - Electric Literature

“Reading a Kyle Minor story feels like watching a Coen Brothers film: you have no idea where you’re being led, but you know it’s going to be good.” Los Angeles Review of Books

“[Minor] aims his flashlight in the dark places we make extraordinary efforts to avoid.”– Bookslut

“Kyle Minor’s new collection, Praying Drunk, has already made its claim for being one of the year’s best books. The stories contained within it recount wrenching stories of families in turmoil, faith challenged, and nations in upheaval. Structurally inventive and equally adept at realism and the surreal, Minor’s new book is a stunning work of literature.”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Minor’s book is one of the most thought-provoking, intelligently designed story collections I’ve seen in some time, and the discussions he starts—about life, about art, about the boundaries and limitations of genre—are ones scholars and writers alike will be discussing for quite some time, and with good reason.” - Barnes & Noble Book Blog 

“Darkly funny, fiercely energetic, and unapologetically sincere.” - Harvard Crimson

“Sad, soulful stories.” Daily Beast

“Nothing here is contained, the way a hit single on a record stands alone—characters recur, themes and forms are deepened and visited again, moments glimpsed earlier come back with haunting force. ” - The Atlantic

“Terrific collection.” - Boston Globe

“Remarkable writing which maintains the illusion of moving forward, even as it shows us the chasm below.” - Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Sublime.” The Rumpus

“Brilliant.” - Kirkus Reviews

“A dark collection of intelligent stories that will break your heart over and over again.” - Buzzfeed

“Ranges from cheeky observational comedy to frightening surrealism.” - Time Out New York

“Even though Praying Drunk might be classified as experimental, it is also a page turner. I read it quickly, in an almost hallucinatory daze, which is also why the title seems so apt.” - Fiction Writers’ Review

“Praying Drunk is set in the immediate aftermath of the death of God, when each of us is forced to take responsibility for our own actions and thoughts and ways of being in this world. I can’t think of a tougher challenge a writer could give himself or another book since the Duino Elegies that succeeds so spectacularly in excavating the terror of personal freedom. Kyle Minor’s characters carry the unenviable but glorious burden, one we all share, of being all too human.” - Andrew Ervin, author of Extraordinary Renditions

“When the characters residing in Kyle Minor’s engrossing and lively Praying Drunk find a toehold on the good life, I hope that it’s autobiographical. When the characters find themselves enveloped in desperate situations, irreversible circumstances, and despair, I pray that it’s solely out of the writer’s imagination. These fine stories–up there with the best works of Padgett Powell, Donald Barthelme, and Robert Coover–never straddle a milquetoast fence: they’re extreme in humor, extreme in sorrowfulness, and 100% individually-wrapped masterpieces. I am haunted and mesmerized by this collection.”
- George Singleton, author of Stray Decorum

“Praying Drunk gets the whole thing down: the cosmic muck and the local glory, the big questions and the tiny lives, the bullies and the saviors, the screaming at the sky and the lights by the side of the road late at night on a long drive. I finished this book with my heart pounding and grateful, my coffee cold and my smile wide and crying like a baby.”
- Daniel Handler, author of Adverbs and The Basic Eight

“Watch Praying Drunk’s lovely, lonely people wrestle with Minor’s dark God and remember when you too tried to reason with Him and unravel His mysterious commands. These passionate tales, full of longing and daring and honesty, will disturb and inspire you.”
- Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution


Hobart: A Conversation with Douglas Watson

Tin House: A Conversation with Andrew Ervin

The Believer: A Conversation with Matt Bell

Fiction Writers Review: A Conversation with Ben Stroud

VICE Magazine: A Conversation with Amie Barrodale

Barnes & Noble Books Blog: A Conversation with Amy Butcher

Best of Lists, Etc.

RUMPUS Book Club Selection

American Booksellers Association Winter Institute Selection

Kirkus Starred Review

Flavorwire Most Anticipated Books of 2014 Selection

Flavorwire 10 Must-Read Books for February 2014

BUZZFEED 15 Highly Anticipated Books

Guest of a Guest Winter Reading List 2014 Selection

Daily Beast Hot Read


Largehearted Boy Book Notes: Praying Drunk and The Land Beyond

Huffington Post: 15 Hottest Affairs in Literature

Excerpt (“The Question of Where We Begin”) at The Center for Fiction

Excerpt (“Suspended”) at Gotham Writers’ Workshop

Poets & Writers Online Excerpt, Podcast, & Page One Magazine Feature

Full-Page Praying Drunk ad in Harper’s Magazine, February 2014

Where to Find a Copy

Praying Drunk is available at your local bookstore, and from Amazon.comBarnes&NoblePowell’s,Indiebound, and Target. It is also available for adding to your Goodreads library. It is also the November 2013 selection of the Rumpus Book Club, whose members received a special pre-release limited edition copy.






PRAYING DRUNK, by Kyle Minor

An award-winning short fiction author offers 12 stories so ripe with realism as to suggest a roman à clef.

“In a Distant Country” is the most affecting, ringing with the haunted truths of Shakespearean tragedy—a missionary in Haiti, his teenage bride, the Duvaliers overthrown, his death, her disappearance—a tale unfolding in six letters from witnesses. It’s the 10th tale, but don’t read it first. In sequence, the stories present a powerful reflective narrative, offering perspectives on friends, family and faith. Stories cut to the heart—a teen helps his father chop a pink piano into kindling before he “walked toward this woodpile with a loaded shotgun and blew off his head”; then the boy’s funeral is rendered through multiple stories. Then come stories of the narrator’s brother, a Nashville musician, cheated and misused, who quits, finds a good job and then quits again, “under the shadow of death, that end of all ends, and life is too short…when you could be standing under stage lights making somebody you never met before feel something.” Pain and loss range from Ohio to Tennessee to Kentucky to Florida to Haiti, with prose ringing with the hard-edged, mordant clarity of Southern writing. A preacher turns the making of biscuits into a funeral parable, and there’s more sardonic play with faith as when a character sniffs up methadone powder: “There’s the line, gone up like the rapture.” That surrealistic piece follows a bereaved father who recreates a dead son as a bionic robot to win back his wife. This brilliant collection unfolds around a fractured narrative of faith and friends and family, loved and lost, an arc of stories in which characters find reason to carry on even after contemplating a “God with agency enough to create everything…and apathy enough to let it proceed as an atrocity parade.”

There’s cynicism and despair and nihilism in the collection, certainly, but there’s courage too, and a measure of blood-tinged beauty.


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