Miracle Boy and Other Stories

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Table of Contents

  • Miracle Boy
  • Buckeyes
  • The Butcher Cock
  • Pony Car
  • Joe Messinger is Dreaming
  • Mudman
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • The Beginnings of Sorrow
  • The Angel's Trumpet
  • The World, the Flesh, and the Devil
  • Pig Helmet & the Wall of Life
  • The Secret Nature of the Mechanical Rabbit
  • Mercy
  • Zog-19: A Scientific Romance

Promotional Information

Miracle Boy is a beautiful collection -- immaculately crafted, moving, surprising and sustaining. A book full of dreams of wonder and horror, tenderness, brutality and confusion -- each shot through with a shattered humanity. A remarkable achievement and a testament to the power of the short story form. -- AL Kennedy

About the Author

Pinckney Benedict grew up on his family’s dairy farm in the mountains of southern West Virginia. He has published two collections of short fiction and a novel. His stories have appeared in Esquire, Zoetrope: All-Story, the O. Henry Award series, the New Stories from the South series, the Pushcart Prize series, The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, and The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction.


Benedict evokes the world of hard-bitten Southern men who live in shabby weatherbeaten houses or rickety trailers, who work in tire factories or slaughterhouses, who are slow to speak but quick to explode in anger, and whose women are tangential figures.
*Publishers Weekly*

What Beattie did for urbanites, Cheever and Updike for suburbanites, a younger generation Omstead, Abbott, Cullen, and now Benedict is doing for the rural population. Only 22 and recipient of the 1986 Nelson Algren Award, Benedict has published stories in the Chicago Tribune and Ontario Review. His world is regional, tough, raw, male; these nine stories deal with the mountain men, sheep farmers, and hog raisers of rural West Virginia.
*Library Journal*

An often heart-stopping literary performance.
*The New York Times*

Benedict's first collection of stories since his auspicious if uneven debut (Town Smokes, 1987) is a far more accomplished work, establishing him among the best young southern writers – full of passion and mature enough to keep it under control. Benedict searches out the moral dimension in the hardscrabble lives of rednecks and country people, and transcends the folksy bromides they espouse. He discerns the confusion and ambiguities in their seemingly uncomplicated lives.
*Kirkus Reviews*

In this taut, muscular thriller set in contemporary rural West Virginia, short-story writer Benedict (The Wrecking Yard) hurtles the reader toward a chillingly apocalyptic climax replete with high-tech weaponry and old-fashioned treachery. Peopled with an assortment of New South grotesques, the story centers on Goody, a young bare-fisted fighter new to the neighborhood, and Tannhauser, a deranged, 12-fingered backwoods drug lord with a penchant for sadism.
*Publishers Weekly*

In this first novel, Benedict continues his exploration of rural West Virginia life begun in his two short story collections, The Wrecking Yard and Town Smokes. As in the short stories, the writing here is strong and vivid. The wide cast of characters includes Goody (a boxer), Dwight (a tourist guide), drug enforcement agents, marijuana growers, gunrunners, illegal immigrants, and a variety of lost and corrupt souls. They live and die in an atmosphere of bleakness and despair, with violence and brutality as constant companions.
*Library Journal*

Benedict, who lives in West Virginia, is the author of two highly regarded short story collections, Town Smokes and The Wrecking Yard. In this, his first novel, individual chapters have the compression of short stories, but he fails to maintain a novel-length narrative flow, and none of his characters sustain interest for the book's 300-plus pages. Still, his language is vivid and assured, his dialogue is skillfully written and convincing, and he creates an atmosphere of unsettling strangeness.

The first novel by storywriter Benedict (Town Smokes, 1987; The Wrecking Yard, 1992) barely resembles his measured and lyrical short fiction. Benedict owes more here to action movies than to any literary source: the levels of violence and the plot improbabilities have the same nihilistic drive of a Peckinpah film. In Benedict's West Virginia, the smell of death pervades the air, and wild dogs and boars rule the uninhabited forest. Government land, long abandoned, now serves the local drug lords, who import South American laborers to harvest their best cash crop: marijuana. Into this corrupt mountain community stumbles Goody, a good but troubled bare-fisted boxer who once killed a man in a dirty match.
*Kirkus Reviews*

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