"Wonderful. While this isn't a thriller, at least in any traditional sense of the word, it's deeply suspenseful. Nahm's] descriptions of rural Kentucky are gorgeous, but he digs far below the surface to portray the real soul of the town. Remarkable...Read more...
"Wonderful. While this isn't a thriller, at least in any traditional sense of the word, it's deeply suspenseful. Nahm's] descriptions of rural Kentucky are gorgeous, but he digs far below the surface to portray the real soul of the town. Remarkable... it's impossible to stop reading until you've gone through each beautiful line, a beauty that infuses the whole novel, even in its darkest moments."
"Absorbing. There's an arch beauty to Nahm's prose. One feels to be discovering the story rather than just receiving it."
"It's the prose that makes this suspenseful first novel unforgettable. Like a pointillist painting, Nahm's writing daubs image upon image to construct an impressionistic view of life in a small town. A powerful first novel, the kind that makes you want to stop people in the street to tell them about it."
-Library Journal, STARRED
"David Connerley Nahm's Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky knows that all true stories are ghost stories, full of horror and want, distance and lossthe lasting specters of the tales we tell ourselves to mask the long truths that refuse to let us go."
Leah's little brother, Jacob, disappeared when the pair were younger, a tragedy that haunts her still. When a grown man arrives at the non-profit Leah directs claiming to be Jacob, she is wrenched back to her childhood, an iridescent tableau of family joy and strife, swimming at the lake, sneaking candy, late-night fears, and the stories told to quell them.
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky is a wrecking-ball of a novel that attempts to give meaning and poetry to everything that comprises small-town life in central Kentucky. Listen: they are the ghost stories that children tell one another, the litter that skirts the gulley, the lines at department stores.
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky reads as though Anne Carson and Maggie Nelson wrote a more focused Antwerp and based it in central Kentucky. A gorgeous, haunting, prismatic jewel of a book.
David Connerley Nahm was born and raised in a small town in central Kentucky. Currently, he lives in the mountains of Virginia where he practices law and teaches law and literature at James Madison University. His short stories have appeared in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Trunk Stories, Eyeshot, and on McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Leah Shepherd leads a quiet life, runs a nonprofit organization for victims of domestic violence, and generally keeps to herself in Nahm’s intriguing debut novel. But she is haunted by her past. Leah’s younger brother, Jacob, disappeared when they were both children, and his absence has defined her entire existence. While Leah struggles to keep her clients safe from abusive husbands, flashbacks of her recent past are revealed—including a broken engagement, and an inheritance from an older woman whose family accused Leah of manipulating her in order to get into the will. At every turn, the world proves itself bitter, or worse, and the inhospitable Kentucky landscape of old farms, old churches, and new poverty adds to the tone of despondency. The story moves constantly between past and present, often from one paragraph to the next, creating a nonlinear sense of time, in which Leah’s memories are both more fluid and more urgent than her day-to-day adult life of meetings and grant applications. The disjointed narrative sometimes becomes too overwhelming and too restless to keep up with, but Nahm has braided these chronologies together artfully, and the persistent shifting reflects an honest representation of Leah’s mind-set. (Aug.)