KIND ONE by Laird Hunt
Kirkus Star


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The dark, silent, forbidding Ohio River flows like a line of moral demarcation in Hunt’s (The Exquisite, 2006, etc.) latest literary foray.

Hunt’s story arises from the rough edges of mid-19th-century civilization, before and after the great Civil War. It follows a young girl, Ginny, in a tragic odyssey from Indiana to Kentucky and home again. Full of pride and promises—"struck it rich as a king in trade and now was going to let the land care for him"—widower Linus Lancaster journeyed north to Indiana to marry a cousin he had long fancied. He assumed her widowed, with rumors of her husband dead in a far-off war. But the husband was only wounded, left with a wooden foot and a cane. The cousin had a daughter, Ginny, and as young girls do, Ginny flirted, and Linus’ attentions turned her way. There is a marriage, and the couple treks into Kentucky, where the boastful talk and sweet promises end, not with a fine home, all columns, gables and a 50-foot porch, but instead, at a rough cabin with extra rooms tacked on, a place where Ginny, only 14, must care for Linus’ daughters, 10 and 12. Opening with a prologue in the form of an extraordinarily beautiful meditation on loss, Hunt’s writing deepens into allegory, symbolism and metaphor, all while spinning forth a dark tale of abuse, incest and corruption reminiscent of Faulkner, a circuitous tale in which pigs continually darken the narrative, right to the point where the brutal Linus is killed with a "pig sticker," and Ginny becomes captive within a shadowy, ambiguous gothic-tinged maelstrom of revenge. Blood, race and slavery thread through the story, until Ginny returns across the river again to Indiana where she lives out her life as Scary Sue, working as a housekeeper for another widower, turning away more than once from love and reconciliation in pursuit of a redemption only she understands and desires.

Profoundly imaginative, strikingly original, deeply moving. 

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56689-311-4
Page count: 156pp
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2012


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Kirkus Interview
Laird Hunt
February 7, 2017

In Laird Hunt’s new novel The Evening Road, Ottie Lee Henshaw is a startling, challenging beauty in small-town Indiana. Quick of mind, she navigates a stifling marriage, a lecherous boss, and on one day in the summer of 1930 an odyssey across the countryside to witness a dark and fearful celebration. Meet Calla Destry, a determined young woman desperate to escape the violence of her town and to find the lover who has promised her a new life. On this day, the countryside of Jim Crow-era Indiana is no place for either. It is a world populated by frenzied demagogues and crazed revelers, by marauding vigilantes and grim fish suppers, by possessed blood hounds and, finally, by the Ku Klux Klan itself. The Evening Road is the story of two remarkable women on the move through an America riven by fear and hatred, and eager to flee the secrets they have left behind. “Hunt brings to mind Flannery O’Connor’s grotesques and Barry Hannah’s bracingly inventive prose and cranks. He is strange, challenging, and a joy to read,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >


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