Growing up Dead in Texas

some links: LA Review of BooksDallas Morning News | San Antonio CurrentMixedblood Message | Omnivoracious (Jeff Vandermeer) | Goodreads | Indie Bound  | Bookfight | Foreword | Manarchy (Chris Deal) | TimeStageEmbassy | WordRiot (Edward J. Rathke) |  Do Some Damage | Publisher’s Weekly | Punchnels | Austin American Statesman | Zouch (Gabino Iglesias)  |  LitHub  |  The Line-Up  |  Considering Stories  |  David Niall Wilson  |  BookRiot  |

some people:  Caleb J. Ross (video) | Matthew VaughnTerasa Skultety  |  Jesse Lawrence | Bob Pastorella | Andrea Kinnear | Adam Cesare | Edward Vaughn | William J. Cobb |  Jedediah Ayres |  Benjamin Whitmer  | Native Lady Book Warrior |

some more: the story of writing it (more) | playlist (essay-ish playlist) | 13weeksfacebook | PW interview | LitReactor interview | TV spot/interview-thing  |  MRT Book Club


Greenwood, Texas

It’s where I grew up. And that’s me on the cover, my little brother behind me. That’s a pecan orchard we lived in for two or three months. It was the best place ever: our trailer was a double-wide, but it was one of those ones that’s only half-long. Lke a single trailer that had been cut in half, folded back on itself so it was like a square now, almost. We lived there across one winter, and that was the first winter I remember that we got snow. These big fat flakes falling on New Year’s night. We were playing Risk inside, but kept coming out to watch these snowflakes melt on our hands. Like I said: the best place ever.

But, Greenwood: when I lived there we didn’t have a post office. Not sure if they do now. And, everything, it was either farming or it was basketball. Well, and trucks. Always trucks. And, as for a synopsis, man. I’m going to start telling the whole novel from page one if you get me started. So, how about the tagline from MP Publishing’s page?

An investigation of the places we’re from, and the places we still live when we close our eyes, Growing Up Dead in Texas explores small-town life, family, and what it really means to go home.

Just hit that link to go a more full write-up. Anyway, I know I’ve been horror horror horror these past few years, and I still am, always will be. But this isn’t. Or, it doesn’t have werewolves and zombies and all the stuff I usually do. But, you know: it’s still maybe the same. To me at least. You can look too deep, right? Isn’t the worst/best part of a lot of horror novels when they finally haul that old shoebox up from under the floorboards, blow the dust off the top and start peeling up old photographs, crackly yellow documents, all this stuff that’s been buried on purpose, all this stuff that the people in the story would rather have not known, please? Well, in Growing Up Dead in Texas, I’m the one in that story. It’s not my shoebox, but I’ve stolen away with it for a couple hundred pages, and know better than to look inside. But you’ve got to, don’t you? I’ve been carrying it around too long not to, I think.

One way to look at this book is that it took me thirteen weeks to write. Another way is that it took me thirty-odd years. And that I’ll never be able to do it again. You only have one year where you’re twelve, I mean. This is mine.

What a wonderful book. Has all the flavor of memoir and all the miracle of fiction. I loved this book. — Joe R. Lansdale

We write novels and maybe read them to feel briefly new and alive. But novels are always taking us back through the pasts none of us want to admit. Growing up Dead in Texas is that thrilling resurrection–the life inside death and the death inside life. Trust me. I lived in West Texas. Stephen Graham Jones’ book took my breath away and gave it back to me. This book is brilliant. — Lidia Yuknavitch

Like finding my own diary from the years I’d forgotten, blacked out. Not so much reading, but more like remembering events I hadn’t actually lived through. I can’t say enough good things about this book. — Craig Clevenger


Growing Up Dead in Texasis a riveting exploration of a 1985 fire that broke a cotton community in half. Although the fire never really happened, Jones’ fictionalized account gets closer to the truth about small-town West Texas than any true memoir ever could. – Dallas Morning-News


As existentially trying as it is just plain eerie, this work puts the NEA recipient and Shirley Jackson Award finalist on a new path of myth slaying biographical deconstruction. Like a way less affected reconfiguration of Cormac McCarthy territory, <em>Growing up Dead in Texas</em> is as haunting as it is humble, and should be filmed by the Coen brothers while they’re still hot off the heels of their last Southern Gothic. – San Antonio Current


But most of all, Growing Up Dead in Texas is reminiscent of Tim O’Brien’s 1990 work The Things They Carried, a connection that Jones has acknowledged. Both books share the same resistance to generic pigeonholing. While The Things They Carried could be a war memoir, a collection of short stories, or a novel (or all three at once), Growing Up Dead in Texas could be a memoir, a mystery novel, or some combination thereof. — LA Review of Books


The book is an ambitious hybrid of fact and myth, past and present, that calls into question the nature of truth itself. While its sprawling web of characters and story lines may seem convoluted at times, the novel is unified by Jones’s rhythmic prose and his evident compassion for his former neighbors’ tragedies—both personal and pastoral. — Publisher’s Weekly

Author: SGJ