Jarret Middleton


Hardcover, Paperback

Dzanc Books

220 Pages





Jordan is a country musician living in the shadow of his father, bluegrass legend Walker Bayne. A man who has made a lifetime of poor decisions, Jordan bounces between dive bars, accruing women and drinking himself to the brink of disaster. When he returns home to the Ozarks for his twin brother’s wedding, Jordan uncovers a curse that has haunted his family for generations. As old tensions resurface and Jordan searches for a way to escape his family’s legacy, a mysterious hill dweller and his grotesque partner stalk the brothers’ every move, determined to see the curse through to its end. Praised by Donald Ray Pollock as “one of the best debuts of the year,” Middleton establishes himself as a novelist in good company with Brian Panowich and Smith Henderson, yet in a category all his own.

Jarret Middleton is the author of Darkansas and the novella, An Dantomine Eerly. He was the founding editor of Dark Coast Press and the classics library Pharos Editions, an imprint of Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. His fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared widely in print and online.


Praise for Darkansas

“Reminiscent of the hillbilly noir of Daniel Woodrell, Middleton kicks up the violent secrets of generations of Baynes and their genetic legacy of twins and patricide [. . .] A vivid novel of an Ozark family bearing generations of twin sons with a legacy of violence that casts understanding light on their fatalistic darkness.” –Shelf Awareness

“A well-carved story of a family’s curse, as brittle and grotesque as any works in the vein of Faulkner or O’Connor [. . .] A subversive twist on Southern myth that’s surprisingly rich in its execution.” –Kirkus

“From the get-go, Middleton grabs readers with an eerie dream about a violent death, a portent of things to come in his page-turning debut about a family’s curse.” –Publishers Weekly

“Urgently written . . . Middleton’s atmospheric work, set in a world little visited, captures both individual and family struggle in sharp-edged language as it investigates how we constantly come up against fate.” –Library Journal

“Set in the hills and hollers of the Ozarks, this atmospheric debut is steeped in southern accents, bar brawls, and country music. When twin brothers Jordan and Malcolm Bayne return to the family home for a wedding, they unearth tales of violence and heartache that have plagued their family for generations. A gritty, gripping tale with great characters.” –Emily Adams, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA (Staff Pick)

“The devil didn’t go down to Georgia, he went to Arkansas, where the Bayne family struggle against Beelzebub’s grip on their collective fates. Middleton’s ferocious debut has it all–sex, song, sadness, and a history as dark and twisted as the Ozark hollers that fill these pages. Holy hell, what a book.” –Peter Geye, author of Wintering

“Gritty, ghostly, poetic, Darkansas is sure to appeal to fans of William Gay and Shirley Jackson. I’d bet a fifth of the top-shelf stuff it will be considered one of the best debuts of the year.” –Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table

“A mesmerizing debut [. . .] There is a dark magic in Middleton’s prose that is impossible to resist.” –Jonathan Evison, New York Times best-selling author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

“Middleton’s lush writing creates an atmosphere both beautiful and horrific. A grand debut that pushes the limits of ‘Southern Gothic’ and delivers an engrossing story of family, love, and fate.” –Kathi Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

“Middleton’s brilliant debut is a vivid, haunting page-turner in the American gothic tradition.” –Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“A slow burn [. . .] Before you know it you can’t put it down. A barbed meditation on fear, family, and the monstrousness of fate.” –Brian Evenson, author of Last Days

“Reminiscent of the works of Larry Brown and Rick Bass; richly drawn, refreshing, and authentic [. . .] An innovative literary voice that I look forward to following for decades to come.” –Nickolas Butler, author of The Hearts of Men

Darkansas croons a bloody and beautiful ballad . . . like Tom Waits scribbled it on cocktail napkins.” –Joshua Mohr, author of Sirens and Fight Song

“A delicious blend of the gritty reality inherent in dysfunctional family relationships and the magical realism of small towns in the mythic ‘deep south’ [. . .] You can practically hear Ry Cooder’s guitar licks playing in the background.”–Paul Hanson, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

A novel that shares DNA not only with the best contemporary country noir authors but also with literary giants like Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner.”  –Gabino Iglesias, Criminal Element

“A dark, twisting page-turner with hints of Southern gothic lurking around the corners of its horror-tinged sense of dread and juxtaposes its gritty reality against a mounting sense of surrealistic terror.” –Keith Rice, Unbound Worlds

“A seemingly straightforward tale of a family curse takes several wide turns and ends up being something so far afield, it’s kind of astonishing. Using deliciously unreliable narrators, deeply conflicted characters, and an entrenched emotionality, Middleton writes a book that will leave you feeling absolute wonder at his creativity, and a longing for more.”   –Dianah Hughley, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR (Staff Pick)

“Middleton could accurately be credited with blending horror, literary fiction, Southern fiction, and science fiction/fantasy. His creepy, crawly sentences are laden with gothic thicket, and the atmosphere he evokes is mystical. What seems superficially realistic is shaded with a glow of “Mulholland Drive”-style surrealism. In a memorable and skilled novel, Middleton suggests that there are unexplained mysteries out there, and that their presence may play a heavier hand in our daily lives than we’d like to believe.” –Arkansas Times



An Dantomine Eerly

Jarret Middleton



123 Pages



In Middleton’s experimental first novella, a dying poet confronts repressed memories of pain and loss while on his deathbed. Dallin’s tortured psyche travels back to an old wind-beaten house where a palpable absence suggests a past but somehow still-looming tragedy; vacancy permeates a ghostly barroom and the campus of a condemned university; city streets and desolated forests are populated by no one except the changing formulations of Dallin’s own mind. Along with his wife Aìsling, the two flee an obscure political persecution which leads to her graphic, methodically planned murder. The impact of her death afflicts Dallin in ways he cannot comprehend, spiraling him headlong into his meeting with the mythic celestial escort, An Dantomine Eerly. This original debut is a skillful re-conception of the old Irish poetic form the aìsling, meaning “dream vision” or “vision-poem.”

Praise for An Dantomine Eerly

“Experimental, surreal, . . . Eerly calls back to centuries of Irish literary tradition, from the aisling (a patriotic lyric poem from the 17th century with dozens of bizarre constraints) to James Joyce’s giddy molestation of language.” Paul Constant, The Stranger

“Middleton sails into the Celtic mystic, cherry-picking from the genre for elements of full effect and evocation. An account about the end of a poet’s life and what lies beyond, the tale is a mind-strangling though always kaleidoscopic and enticing exploration of existence in which the esoteric escort, the psychopomp, An Dantomine Eerly—Bringer of Death, Boatman, or Angel—guides the reader in a quest to trace the fate of a dying poet . . . The extraordinary An Dantomine Eerly rolls more trippingly off the tongue with each pronunciation.”  Gordon Hauptfleisch, San Diego Union Tribune Books

“Identities are never fully clear in this Gothic tale of romance and sex. The language that provides clues as to their appearance and character shines and shifts with something larger than beings of skin and bone. Its language is a liminal one, haunting the borders of life and death, ideas and reality, with a mournful, incendiary resonance. At the heart of this book is a deep romanticism, a dusky tenuity that thwarts and lures, conceals and reveals, confusing actuality with hallucination . . . [An Dantomine Eerly] sounds as if Charles Bukowski had suddenly been possessed by the spirit of Matthew Arnold. As if Dover Beach suddenly became Venice Beach, and the acerbic barfly a quixotic scholar gypsy. As if they could somehow be both, in the same body.”   John Olson, author of Souls of Wind and The Nothing That Is

An Dantomine Eerly is dark, its landscapes phantasmagorical, and yet it manages to capture an ethereal, near-philosophic quality about its ancient New England setting and those who may have lived there. The environment dictates the madness, taking on character where other characters are missing. Ultimately, what these naturalist and gothic writers have in common, and what Middleton evokes, is the search for the identity of a self that needs unification. Like Gertrude Stein, it is about language but also nothing at all, the delineation of things, process, and upkeep. The action here is the stillness that can only be achieved after a disaster, a sift through confusion, or an epic process, and it is as beautiful as it is succinct.” Greg Bem, The Collagist

“This book is a surreal exploration of death and the secrets that lie at the end of the universe, [. . . ] whether or not you pick up on all of the vast meaning, it’s like reading a painting;you might not know precisely what the creator meant to say, but it’s still beautiful to look at, and you get the sense that there’s something profound just beyond your grasp.” Bibliophibia

“An Dantomine Eerly takes the reader on an intellectual ride . . . Profusely prolific in an amazingly short amount of space . . . An Dantomine Eerly was as engaging a read as I had hoped, . . . I would recommend this book to readers looking for an intellectual read as well as book groups that like a challenging book to discuss.”  Rundpinne


Other Writing

The Cable Company – Heavy Feather Review

Murder, Myth, and Metaphor – Powell’s Blog

The Apostles of The Culture Industry – The Quarterly Conversation

Lady of Arson;In Heaven, Everything is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch (Eraserhead Press)

Chapter 18, Hotel Angeline: A Novel In 36 Voices (Open Road)

The Highest Luxury: Reading Ranciere and the Beauty of Forgetting – The Weeklings

The Highest Luxury: Deleuze on Difference – The Weeklings

Violence in Ferguson, Violence in the System – The Weeklings

We Haven’t Seen You In Ages, SmokeLong Quarterly

Author Fail by Jarret Middleton, Big Other

A Romance Near Water, Wordslaw

Reviews & Interviews

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry – Shelf Awareness for Readers

Geoff Dyer: The Shape of the Landscape – Shelf Awareness for Readers

Jim Lynch: Sail Away – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, April 2016

Ross Howell Jr.: Guilt and Hatred Under Jim Crow – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, February 2016

Bill Beverly: Four Characters Finding Trouble – Maximum Shelf Author Interview, January 2016

James Renner: The Great Forgetting – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, November 2015

Anna Badkhen: Storyteller as Outsider – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, August 2015

Vu Tran: Diaspora and Identity – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, August 2015

Benjamin Johncock: The Drama of Flight – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, July 2015

Brian Panowich: North Georgia Noir – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, July 2015

Timothy Snyder: All History Is Contemporary History – Shelf Awareness for Readers Author Interview, June 2015

Interview with Andre Dubus III on Dirty Love – Shelf Awareness

Interview with Gabriel Blackwell on The Natural Dissolution of Fleeting-Improvised Men – Vol. 1 Brooklyn

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye – The Collagist

Understories by Tim Horvath – HTMLGIANT

My Only Wife by Jac Jemc – Smalldoggies

One Hundred Camels in the Courtyard by Paul Bowles – Smalldoggies

The Physics of Imaginary Objects by Tina May Hall – The Collagist