The Captive Condition

A Novel

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Paperback
$19.00 US
On sale Jul 12, 2016 | 288 Pages | 9780804169301
For years Normandy Falls has been haunted by its strange history and aggrieved spirits said to roam its graveyards. Despite warnings, Edmund Campion is determined to move there to pursue a graduate degree. One night Edmund stumbles upon the body of Emily Ryan drowned in her family pool. Was it suicide, Edmund wonders, or murder? Elsewhere, a low-level criminal named The Gonk takes over a remote cottage, complete with a burial ground and moonshine still, and devises plans for both; Xavier D'Avignon, the eccentric chef of a failing French restaurant, supplies customers with a hallucinogenic cocktail he makes in his kitchen; and Colette Collins, an elderly local artist of the surreal, attends a New Year's Eve retrospective that is destined to set the whole town on fire.

Into the Rural Rust Belt Dystopia
 

During the quiet hours after midnight on New Year’s Day, the ghosts of Normandy Falls, manacled like felons to the tomb, temporarily escaped the totalitarian scrutiny of heaven and the moldering prison house of death, and from the forlorn churchyard near the square and the untilled fields in the valley, they assembled under the light of a spectral moon and resolved to haunt those who had denied them love. They rose high in the blustery air, thin sheets of ectoplasm flapping like mainsails in the lashing wind, a vibration of mournful energy that the living, rest­ing uneasily in their homes after the raucous holiday parties had ended, mistook as the leading edge of a storm drafting down unhindered from the polar ice cap. Like a swirling multitude of madhouse muses, the ghosts with their baleful song inspired me to act that fateful night, and through a maze of monster hemlocks that whispered and hissed in the icy wind, they guided me into the valley and then safely back to town.
 
Just before daybreak, as the horizon began to pale, I emerged from the woods and plodded across a sloping landscape of false contours. Nothing had distance or scale. The light was flat and gray, and the wind-sculpted crusts and cornices of drifting snow quickly transformed the campus quad into an uninhabitable tundra. I felt perfectly alone and anonymous, like a lost Arctic voyager, but even at that early hour, as I battled my way toward the Department of Plant Services, I saw in one of the cracked and filthy windows a yellow light flickering in the dark­ness and knew the Gonk was waiting for me.

© Catherine Scanlon
After working as a boilermaker in the steel mills in Ohio, KEVIN P. KEATING became a professor of English and began teaching at Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland State University, and Lorain County Community College. His essays and stories have appeared in more than fifty literary journals, and his first novel, The Natural Order of Things, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. His second novel, The Captive Condition, will be released by Pantheon Books in July of 2015. He lives in Cleveland. View titles by Kevin P. Keating

About

For years Normandy Falls has been haunted by its strange history and aggrieved spirits said to roam its graveyards. Despite warnings, Edmund Campion is determined to move there to pursue a graduate degree. One night Edmund stumbles upon the body of Emily Ryan drowned in her family pool. Was it suicide, Edmund wonders, or murder? Elsewhere, a low-level criminal named The Gonk takes over a remote cottage, complete with a burial ground and moonshine still, and devises plans for both; Xavier D'Avignon, the eccentric chef of a failing French restaurant, supplies customers with a hallucinogenic cocktail he makes in his kitchen; and Colette Collins, an elderly local artist of the surreal, attends a New Year's Eve retrospective that is destined to set the whole town on fire.

Excerpt

Into the Rural Rust Belt Dystopia
 

During the quiet hours after midnight on New Year’s Day, the ghosts of Normandy Falls, manacled like felons to the tomb, temporarily escaped the totalitarian scrutiny of heaven and the moldering prison house of death, and from the forlorn churchyard near the square and the untilled fields in the valley, they assembled under the light of a spectral moon and resolved to haunt those who had denied them love. They rose high in the blustery air, thin sheets of ectoplasm flapping like mainsails in the lashing wind, a vibration of mournful energy that the living, rest­ing uneasily in their homes after the raucous holiday parties had ended, mistook as the leading edge of a storm drafting down unhindered from the polar ice cap. Like a swirling multitude of madhouse muses, the ghosts with their baleful song inspired me to act that fateful night, and through a maze of monster hemlocks that whispered and hissed in the icy wind, they guided me into the valley and then safely back to town.
 
Just before daybreak, as the horizon began to pale, I emerged from the woods and plodded across a sloping landscape of false contours. Nothing had distance or scale. The light was flat and gray, and the wind-sculpted crusts and cornices of drifting snow quickly transformed the campus quad into an uninhabitable tundra. I felt perfectly alone and anonymous, like a lost Arctic voyager, but even at that early hour, as I battled my way toward the Department of Plant Services, I saw in one of the cracked and filthy windows a yellow light flickering in the dark­ness and knew the Gonk was waiting for me.

Author

© Catherine Scanlon
After working as a boilermaker in the steel mills in Ohio, KEVIN P. KEATING became a professor of English and began teaching at Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland State University, and Lorain County Community College. His essays and stories have appeared in more than fifty literary journals, and his first novel, The Natural Order of Things, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. His second novel, The Captive Condition, will be released by Pantheon Books in July of 2015. He lives in Cleveland. View titles by Kevin P. Keating

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