© Christian Doellner
Frank Bill is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ravaged, with Norman Reedus; the novels The Savage and Donnybrook, the latter of which was turned into a film in 2018; and the story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana, one of GQ’s favorite books of 2011 and a Daily Beast best debut of 2011. He lives and writes in southern Indiana.
11:15 am to Noon
Cavalier House Books Tent
Back to the Dirt: A Novel
Frank Bill is back with a gritty, wrenching novel from deep inside the traumas of a broken American heartland.
Miles is a Vietnam veteran who’s worried he’s going to lose his job—and with it his tenuous grasp on a stable life—over a fight with a coworker. His PTSD and struggles to control his steroid-fueled violent tendencies also complicate his relationship with his girlfriend, Shelby, a stripper who only occasionally displays the proverbial heart of gold. She’s certainly kinder and more generous than her brother, Wylie, who has been implicated in the deaths of two local Oxy dealers and is currently on the run. When Wylie kidnaps Shelby and holes up in Miles’s country lair, it all threatens to become a bit too much for Miles.
As Frank Bill peels back the layers of Miles’s history, going deep into his memories of the Vietnam War, Back to the Dirt gets to the root of the traumas that have caused Miles and his community so much adversity. In this blistering novel, Bill reaches for the core values—living close to the land, working with your hands—that have been obscured by generations of neglect, drug abuse, and desperation. This is a profound and important story of an America that is only beginning to get its due attention—and Frank Bill is its most visceral, essential chronicler.
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