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Soaked in night visions and pierced through by jagged memory, Talking God’s Radio Show tells that peculiarly American story in which, as Faulkner once said, “The past isn’t forgotten, it isn’t even the past.” John High’s Virginia backwaters call to mind the feral, hallucinogenic American landscapes of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God, as well as Faulkner’s Sanctuary. His journey through their underworld of racial and sexual transgression sparks caustic, brain-searing consequences—we discover, at the soul’s black bottom, a resolute will to rise up and die, as if both actions were one in the same. This novel is an lyric ode to the heart’s ineluctable damnation and redemption.
There’s no credibility gap between the lives of John High’s characters and his empathy for them and his descriptions of their exterior and interior worlds is charged with beauty and always on target. The red-light district of Richmond, Virginia in the mid-sixties is the backdrop and High is the ultimate time-traveler—recreating the arcane of a world that seems long gone but is actually steeped in present day time. Talking God’s Radio Show is airtight and explosive and belongs on the same shelf as James Ellroy’s My Dark Places and Leslie Silko’s Ceremony. Devastating and heartbreaking and revelatory by turn, a virtuoso performance forever in the eye of the storm.
John High is the author of several books, including Ceremonies, Sometimes Survival, the lives of thomas-episodes and prayers, and The Sasha Poems: A Book of Fables. He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including three Fulbrights, two National Endowments and poetry awards from the Witter Bynner Foundation, Arts International, and Arts Link. The publication in 1997 (excerpts from) The Sasha Poems met with extraordinary critical acclaim, here and abroad. He is the editor of Crossing Centuries: The New Russian Poetry (Talisman House). A founding editor of the Five Fingers Review, he has also co-translated books of the Russian poets Nina Iskrenko, Aleksei Parshchikov and Ivan Zhdanov.