Years from now, America is slowly collapsing. Crops are drying up and oil is running out. People flee cities for the countryside, worsening the drought and opening the land to crime. Amid this decay and strife, war veteran David Parrish fights to keep his family and farm together. However, the murder of a local child opens old wounds, forcing him to confront his own nature on a hunt through dust storms and crumbling towns for the killer.
In Above All Men, Shonkwiler thrusts us into the future, but not the kind of future you might expect, yet one that is painfully possible. The economy has collapsed. The landscape isn’t lush and healthy. Life isn’t filled with ridiculous gadgetry, as one might expect to encounter in a far off version of our now. Instead, the unfortunate inhabitants of our tomorrow are forced to live a worse-off version of life than their long-ago ancestors once did. And the desperation which plagues this future is deliciously palpable and drips off the page, dances its way right into our hands and our hearts. And for as hard as times might be for our main character, David Parrish, the words which are used to tell this story are anything but. Page after page, you’ll quickly find yourself immersed into one of the most beautifully and artfully crafted tales about courage and strength and the power of resilience. It takes an author of real talent to tell a tale that is filled with a lot of ugly and make it anything but. And that’s what Shonkwiler is – an author of immense talent.
Above All Men now resides on my list of top reads of my lifetime. If you like your fiction more real than not and you’re a fan of magnificent literature, you’ll want, no, need to pick up a copy.
Eric Shonkwiler has had writing appear in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Fiddleblack, [PANK] Magazine, and Midwestern Gothic. He was born and raised in Ohio, received his MFA from The University of California at Riverside, and has lived and worked in every contiguous U.S. timezone. Above All Men is his first novel.