PLOT- Kyle Minor's, Praying Drunk: Stories, is a collection of related tales on the topics of faith, death, and everything else in the universe. It's so much more than I can possibly summarize, so I'm going to stop and jump right into my thoughts.
LIKE- Minor issues an instruction at the start of his collection, the stories are intended to be read in order. Although, they have been previously published as solo works, this collection should be read as a novel. As someone who is excellent at following instructions and hates doing things out of order, I happily complied. What I didn't realize is the brilliance in which Minor has ordered his stories, creating layers of depth.
For example, the reoccurring story of Danny, the nephew who commits suicide, a story that reoccurs at many points in the collection, giving the reader different angles on the same situation. In The Truth and All Its Ugly, the narrator is Danny's father, who admits his own culpability in Danny's death. The father is pill addict, passing along his addiction to Danny, teaching his son to snort pills. In future stories, we hear the scenario from Danny's uncle by marriage, as he sees the fall-out in the family, including attending Danny's very awkward funeral with a minister who uses a baking demonstration to explain the grieving process.
Praying Drunk: Stories, is an incredible collection, but the reoccurring stories of Danny made the biggest impression. I finished the book days ago and I can't stop thinking about it. I believe the reason that they made such an impression, is due to a mind trick that Minor plays with his readers.
His story called Q & A, is set up as a question and answer style interview, and it seems to be that Minor is answering as perhaps himself, or as the creator of a universe, which I took to be a God or maybe a writer (Minor), a god of their own universe of stories. This section guided how I read Minor's entire story collection -
Q: On the cover of this book, it says "Fiction."
A: That's what people write when they want to get away with telling the truth. When they want to convince you of a lie, they dress up some facts and call it "Nonfiction." Either way, people from the past send angry emails.
Does this mean that Danny was real? Did biscuits really get baked at a funeral? This seems too bizarre to be false. We are told this is Fiction, but this section in Q & A, blurs the lines. It's a very automatic human response to want to know if something is real or not, however, should that even matter to the reader? Whether or not Danny was real, this theme is clearly coming from something deep and personal.
Minor's is a gifted writer and I was left with a huge impression of Danny, making him feel very much a real person in my mind. I found this collection to be haunting, chilling, and affecting. It was impossible to put down and refused to leave my mind for days; it's still there.
DISLIKE- Nothing. Just be prepared to be taken to dark places and to be affected. Sobbing may occur.
RECOMMEND- Praying Drunk: Stories, is a must-read. Set aside an afternoon with zero distractions and immerse yourself in Minor's world. Don't skip ahead!