Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best of Whatever—Chris Benton

Here are the things that stuck in my mind this past year, they're pretty old most of them, but it's the first time I read them and it made a hellava impact, won't be offended if you don't include them...

A Miracle of Catfish by Larry Brown: Brown was the greatest writer in America and this maundering, nearly finished masterpiece proves it. Yes, maundering, he lingers on details with a lyrical love no other writer will ever emulate.

The Need by Frank Bill: This story relieved me so much with its primal, timely intensity, Bill is a superb craftsman, and deserves tremendous exposure

The Gypsy's Curse by Harry Crews: Every one shits bricks about A Feast of Snakes but this baby is his most physically personal and mentally naked work. if you don't believe me then you know shit about the life of My Man.

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson: Johnson is my god, and many people thought this was a lazy work, but his laziness blows away everyone in a fucking second. "He needed to keep seeing his blood."

Sony Liston Was A Friend of Mine by Thom Jones: Jones is the greatest short story writer since fucking Babel, case closed. His voice his vivid, vicious, and scarily ambidextrous and this collection is his best so far. I'm pretty jacked about his upcoming novel in waiting for over a decade, Deep Blue Dream, oh, baby, don't get me started on that one...)

The Collected Stories of Issac Babel: This Russian writer serving in the Red Calvary, who eventually got whacked by Stalin's secret police taught me more about brevity and macabre humor than any fucking writer on earth.

Ninety Two in the Shade by Thomas McGuane: "Will I find it hard to die?" I don't think I will thanks to this masterpiece, oh by the way this was made into a film, directed by the author staring Peter Fonda and Warren Oates and Margot Kidder, which I've never seen yet to my eternal fucking chagrin.

House of Bones by Aj Hayes: Hayes nailed me forever with this fever dream. It's awful in all the right ways.

Rock Springs By Richard Ford: Before Ford got devoured by Frank fucking Bascombe, he actually wrote some beautiful quiet noir stories set in Montana and Wyoming, he taught me that lingering unease is sometimes better than gunshots

Where The Money Went by Kevin Canty: Canty is the closest thing we have to Carver these day's, his edgy melancholy is unmatched anywhere, he actually taught at my hometown college for a while, before he moved to Montana.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Benton was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina where he still resides. He’s had fiction appear in Plots with Guns and A Twist of Noir and can be found on Facebook


  1. I just picked up the Jones collection yesterday. Great writer. And A Miracle of Catfish is the last Brown I have left to read. Great list, Chris

  2. All three collections by Thom Jones are outstanding. Many of his stories are set where I grew up, and he really nails it in a way any local would recognize, but at the same time does it so universally that it works for most any reader.

    Richard Ford was a fantastic novelist. His early books are just staggering.

  3. Had not heard of any of these, embarassed to say, but I will certainly find out more. Thanks for filling me in.

  4. 92 in the Shade rocked. I hear the film's a travesty.

  5. Great list, Chris. Proper chuffed (as the Brits say) to be in such great company. Gypsy's Curse is so right on it burns. Every choice is a compelling down the road to rarefied air.