Hollis Bragg, the hunchbacked son of a West Virginia hill preacher, earns his living ghostwriting songs for a popular band that left the poverty and corruption of Appalachia and never looked back. When a devastating toxic spill at the Watson chemical plant poisons the local water, it sets off an unpredictable series of events as Hollis witnesses a murder, faces a shocking betrayal, and begins to come to terms with his body and his past.
While The Poison Flood is a thriller with short, sharp spikes of violence and a healthy dose of Appalachian grotesque, it’s also a poignant meditation on music, love, and belonging. Mr. Farmer writes so movingly on so many subjects in this book ... an even-handed look at the realities of life in rural Appalachia, especially for those who don’t fit the mold of what it means to be 'normal.' Hollis’ tale is gripping ... one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a while, capping what was overall one of the best novels I’ve ever read of modern-day rural America.
... darkly brilliant and beautifully written ... memorable thanks to his keen eye and sharp wordcraft ... The story...makes for uncomfortable and at times painful reading. But Farmer’s impressive talent makes the journey through several cringe-worthy passages more than rewarding. His similes, metaphors and turns of phrase are worth underlining and rereading over and over. They are equaled, if not exceeded, by his sharply drawn characters, who you will remember long after you finish this book and probably many others.
... a bizarre and fascinating read that proves that anything is possible in the capable hands of author Jordan Farmer. The novel is immediately engrossing, its characters uniquely memorable, its prose both heartfelt and stunning ... The novel takes a number of unexpected and thrilling turns as Hollis struggles with haunted memories of his past life with his father and his relationships with girlfriends past and present. The mix of situations and characters is admittedly odd, but Farmer more than manages to keep things grounded through Hollis’ close viewpoint. The result is a story rich in compassion and empathy as Hollis tries to find his place in a world that would just as soon shun him and silence his dreams altogether.