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United Nations editor Hunt debuts with a stylish, if opaque, noir tale about a hit man who falls in love, takes a break, and incurs the wrath of his organization. In an unnamed foreign city, an unnamed man meets an unnamed woman who asks for help purchasing a stapler. Several linguistic hurdles later, he’s smitten and decides to go on holiday, but first he must cancel the assignment he’d just accepted. Unfortunately, his resignation is not well received and, upon his return, he undergoes “Disaffirmation”—interrogation and torture—and the love of his life vanishes. Years later, still obsessed, he goes on searching for her, but his organization, which has “Recuperated” him, is not happy with his preoccupation. After learning that she might have been killed, he goes berserk and is again subjected to “Disaffirmation.” He’s then sent to another city and left to figure out his fate. He is housed, fed, observed, and seduced by an older woman who blindfolds him before taking him to her bed, and slowly he comes to accept the fate he had pretty much expected.

The mystery runs at all levels here, and the style and situation have appeal, but this is more a story for puzzle solvers than lovers of literary daring.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-56689-117-5
Page count: 215pp
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2001

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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