With fierce, deep prose and copious amounts of pop-culture fading through the fuzzy head of a Baltimore drug dealer, Stay God is a remarkable debut. Standing firmly in the noir vein, this novel follows Damon, who runs Stay Gold, a second hand shop where they sell drugs hidden in CD cases along with his girlfriend, Mary. He runs with a group of users as deep into horror and video games as he is. His supplier is a kid who has seen The Godfather too many times and has a lust for Mary that just barely supersedes his hatred for Damon. When a new drug hits the street that could set up the two of them for life, Damon makes a decision that could ruin everything.
The story and the mystery pull you in, but it is the writing itself that will hook you. Korpon writes like a mix between Hamsun and Larkin, poetically showing the ugliness of the life and the city:
‘Someone stabbed the sun. It’s dripping onto Baltimore, seeping through gauze clouds onto the cobblestone street, reflecting off wet tire tracks in pinpoint sparks like the ones that follow a two-by-four across the nose. It’s dimming, dying, falling in slow motion, but the city is oblivious. Couples in matching jackets and complementary scarves walk arm-in-arm down Thames and through Fell’s Point. They push strollers with babies double-wrapped in winter coats. Share hot chocolate and kiss the dot of whipped cream off their noses. Window-shop the poster place next-door, looking for the perfect thing for the TV room. Happy lives, happily self-contained in their happy little oblivious universes.’
Every new word brings Damon clearer into focus, painting him as clear as if you grew up with him. The city is, as cliché as this may sound, its own character, but one written as rich and fully as every other person who occupies Damon’s world. Mary herself is a surprise, in that you never doubt for a second that she loves Damon, but she’s not written as your basic female, she’s her own person and the bond between the two of them propels Damon and the reader further. Stay God cuts sharply through the fog of drugs and desire and gets to the matter of identity and maturing in a way that you’d never expect. Stay God ends but you only want it to keep going, to stay in Korpon’s world
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Deal writes from Huntersville, North Carolina. His debut collection of microfiction, Cienfuegos, was published in early 2010 by Brown Paper Publishing. Find him online at www.Chris-Deal.com