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In the Devil's Territory Paperback – November 1, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This debut collection focuses on religion and doubt, and showcases the potential and inconsistency of its young writer. The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Party, which opens the collection, is Minor at his best—a powerful story about a man overcome with guilt, worry and resentment as the health of his wife and their unborn child hangs in the balance. It is followed by an unwieldy, 68-page tale of a squeamish minister undressing his senile mother for a bath (which is then followed by a story featuring another minister with many of the same life details). In general, the frequent recurrence of circumstance, setting and, sometimes, character, is more repetitive than progressive. Still, Minor has a knack for capturing melancholy and establishing empathy for his book's many wayward characters, as in The Navy Man, which tells the story of a Christian school principal's frustrated wife as she considers cheating (again) on her husband. Hopefully, the author's talents will be better displayed in his next book. (Nov.)
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Review

"Minor performs magic with point of view, and he knows that if you describe a thing precisely enough you can make it not just real but tragic."
--Alice Mattison, The Yale Review

"These stories make you wonder what people need to confess but cannot--and if they did, could we bear to hear it?" --Jason Skipper, Third Coast

"The range is impressive. Even more impressive is the thoughtfulness with which Minor explores the limits of our understanding of ourselves and one another." --Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch

"Minor shows in fantastic, horrifying detail how buried truths can bubble up in strange, nightmarish ways." --Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Phoenix

"Minor's voice lands somewhere between William Faulkner and Stephen King." --Sean Carman, New Pages
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Dzanc Books (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979312361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979312366
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In The Devils Territory is a rich cavalcade of brutally emotional tales. Kyle Minor has a knack for writing stories that hit me deep in the gut. I still get shudders thinking about his story "The Trust And All Its Ugly" from his phenomenal collection Praying Drunk. Minor comes just as strong with these 6 stories and novellas that make up In The Devils Territory. All six stories are really good but three really stuck with me. A Love Story which is about the life of a pastor who until middle age struggles to acknowledge his homosexuality. When this pastor has a chance encounter with an old college roommate he shared an intimate experience with, he forces himself to face up to who he is at the risk of losing a wife and a successful church he has been building for years. It is an heart wrenching story that Minor tells powerfully. Another great story is "A Day Meant To Do Less" which is about a son caring for his stroke ridden mother who in her incapacitated and demented state thinks she is being attacked by a man who traumatized her at a young age. There is so much more to the story if you read it though. Its about family, childhood, and how certain life events haunt you forever. The last story I want to acknowledge is "goodbye Hills, hello night", which is about some kids out partying and causing a ruckus that leads to the death of a homeless man. At times the stories in this book remind me a little of a Richard Lange and Hubert Selby Jr mixture. Minor writes stories about humanity and and how it copes with the way life can slap it in the face. This book comes highly recommended from me. I will definitely be reading more Kyle Minor in the future.
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Format: Paperback
The title of this collection echoes a classic Sufjan Stevens' song, and like Stevens, the stories here come to the reader with a surprisingly eclectic combination of tenderness, inventiveness, and force. Minor is unafraid of taking on the big subjects: love and sex, death and decay, faith and transgression and the slow erosion of belief. But he doesn't simply recycle old plots and approaches, nor do the stories feel like veiled autobiographies. In fact, one of the most impressive things about this fine collection is the author's courage in taking on the sensibilities of a range of people: a young man with a wife on bed rest over Christmas; an aging teaching who, years ago, helped her family escape East Berlin; a minister bathing his senile mother. Minor has that all-too-rare combination of a large heart, a sharp eye, and big-canvas ambition. The sentences shimmer with precision. The emotional reach touches the sublime. Read these stories and bells will seem to chime in the background.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is rural family noir, with lots of back-woods religion overtones and family dynamics rooted in harsh sexism where women are taught to be subservient to men and men are trained to exploit that subservience.
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Format: Paperback
It's fitting that Minor drew the title of his collection from Flannery O'Connor (the line I quoted above can be found in the essay, "On Her Own Work") because he descends from her tradition, concerned, as he is, with the messy stuff of our hearts. But whereas O'Connor might pull the rug out from under her characters, confronting them with a glimpse at the sublime reality of their wickedness or misdirection, Minor is more generous, more empathetic. That's not to say he doesn't show his characters' failings or misgivings; he does; his men and women are so well observed you get the impression they were created beneath a jeweler's eye-piece. But whereas O'Connor seems to work toward an exposure, a moment, like at the end of "Greenleaf," where her characters are seized on the horns of their failings, Minor often seems to be working toward our connecting with his characters on a deeper level, so we can understand their plight and see them as something more than what we might on first glance in our everyday lives: the uncaring old woman, the closeted priest, etc., I'd go into more detail -- on how he handles religion and religious characters in a way I see too few contemporary writers do -- but I'm separated from my copy of the collection at the moment, so I can only recommend you buy this book. A debut collection should make you want to see more, and that's what this one does, especially with its longer stories ("A Day Meant to Do Less," "A Love Story"), where Minor's novelistic talents have more room to be displayed. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The snappy title grabbed my interest and I found myself reading it every chance I had until it was finished. it is a quick read and just the thing for the beach or a weekend away. Loved the first person delivery and the conflict resolutions did not disappoint.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superb collection. The stories read like telescoped or condensed novels--like many of Chekhov's stories--spanning lifetimes and juxtaposing eras and generations. If I have to choose a favorite I'll probably go with the title story, where Minor does such a fine job of evoking, through deep third person, the cramped, paranoid atmosphere of postwar East Berlin and his protagonist's wet and dangerous escape to freedom across a black river. The first story--The San Diego County Credit Union--shocked me as it was meant to; I read it in spite of a resistance to sexual violence because it was so well-done and because I trusted that the violence would serve a higher purpose, and wasn't disappointed. I was pleased, too, to see the author move so deftly from present to past tense, from first to third person; too many story collections are locked into a single technique. I hope In The Devil's Territory gets at least some of the attention it richly deserves.
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