Wade “Brown Bottle” Taylor is an alcoholic trying to protect his nephew Nick from the hardness of their region, Eastern Kentucky, and the world in general. He must end Nick's involvement with drugs and drug dealers in the area, and, fueled by his love for his nephew, Brown knows he must be the one to intervene to save him. But in order to save Nick, Brown must first save hWade “Brown Bottle” Taylor is an alcoholic trying to protect his nephew Nick from the hardness of their region, Eastern Kentucky, and the world in general. He must end Nick's involvement with drugs and drug dealers in the area, and, fueled by his love for his nephew, Brown knows he must be the one to intervene to save him. But in order to save Nick, Brown must first save himself, overcoming a lifetime spent convinced he was unworthy. Brown Bottle's journey is one of selflessness and love, redemption and sacrifice, if only for a time."Sheldon Lee Compton is a hillbilly Bukowski, one of the grittiest writers to come down the pike since Larry Brown, and Brown Bottle is his best work yet. - Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time"Brown Bottle, by Sheldon Compton, is a bottleneck blues of a novel, played at midnight, harsh, unsparing, and real as hell. Brown Bottle the man is also someone you won't forget. His story has emotional and moral weight. You won't read a better novel this year." - Rusty Barnes, author of Ridgerunner"Sheldon Lee Compton is one of the new young breed of Kentucky writers--talented, fearless, and strong--bringing us word from the hills." - Chris Offutt, author of The Same River Twice and Out of the Woods"With striking authenticity, Compton delivers a story that is at once tender and a punch straight to the gut. Brown Bottle is honest, heartbreaking and echoing with desperation rendered in precise, razor-sharp prose. Sheldon Lee Compton writes with a reckoning force." - Steph Post, author of A Tree Born Crooked“Sheldon Lee Compton's Brown Bottle is a sharply written story of a man scorched by circumstances but who embodies Harry Crews' dictum that survival is triumph enough. Compton articulates the real hardscrabble world of contemporary Kentucky Appalachia he so intimately understands, writing with a stark and powerful but emotionally subtle voice. Readers of Chris Offutt and Breece Pancake will have an accomplished new author to add to their shelves.” - Charles Dodd White, author of A Shelter of Others and Sinners of Sanction County...
|Number of Pages||:||164 Pages|
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Brown Bottle Reviews
New review! BROWN BOTTLE is up at my blog, Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.Sheldon Lee Compton writes with a scalpel, and then tells his stories of outsiders and misfits and rage-filled unnecessary people in their own arterial blood. You NEED to read it! Bottom Dog Press gets kudos for taste and fearlessness.As always, full review posted here for the click-averse in a week or so.
I worked hard and this was the best I could do for now.
review to come
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.This is a gritty novel revolving chiefly around Wade "Brown Bottle" Taylor and his nephew Nick. Wade earned his nickname as a long time alcoholic, and now he's trying to save teenage Nick from going further and further downhill with drinking and other substance abuse. There is nothing glorified or pretty about the depiction of these issues, but rather a more honest, blunt approach.It's a book that started rather slowly for me and was hard for me to get into at first, as neither of these people was easy for me to learn to like and/or root for in any way, but it's one of those books that gets better as it goes on. The last third of the book was where I had a hard time putting it down to finish the next day. I have to admit that if I hadn't won this book with the agreement to participate in an author discussion, I probably wouldn't have read very far, and that would have been a shame because Compton can write, and write well. And I do not always give a positive rating to books I win for reviews, because that's not honest.This is a book by an Indie press, so there are some typos that in no way ruined the story and it's always great to support Indie publishing companies, recording labels, etc.
The beauty of indie publishing is that, when you least expect it, you might stumble upon a gifted writer working at the top of his craft. Such is the case with Sheldon Lee Compton and his wondrous new novel, Brown Bottle. Publishers like to slap labels on a writer’s work in order to make it easier to sell. While Compton is, in fact, a writer who lives in, and writes about, Appalachia, in this case labels would only detract from the fact that Brown Bottle is, quite simply, a great story. The protagonist, Wade “Brown Bottle” Taylor, is a man possessed, by alcohol, and by the need to protect his young nephew from addiction. Set in and around a small town in eastern Kentucky that is slowly dying, the story of Brown Bottle is a universal one: redemption, revenge, love, hate, all the complex emotions are here, the motivations that cause people to do what they do. Each of the characters in this book (with one terrifying exception) will break your heart and make you wonder, as in all great stories, what you might do under similar circumstances. The brutality of consequence is a central theme, as is the inevitability of circumstance, the devastation that widespread addiction can cause in a place where hope is no longer a realistic option. The desperation and anger that comes from abject poverty threatens to overcome many of the characters, but others stubbornly refuse to yield, finding ways to survive that won’t kill them by degree. The importance of family, and of the desire to do what is right, is at the core of the story, and of Brown Bottle himself. While reading I was filled with a sense of foreboding but also with a sense of hope, knowing that things would likely end well for some and not for others, because that’s what tragedy is. Compton’s Appalachia is a place of stunning beauty, but he understands that showing us only the beauty of a place makes a story incomplete, why it is necessary to also see the ugliness in order to truly understand it. This is a place that is being destroyed by poverty and the ravages of drugs, two things that so often are inextricably linked. Despite the hopelessness many of the characters face, they never stop trying to recapture a life that is forever gone.Here, one of the central characters looks back on his life as a child: “It was a summer night, the kind that can become perfect from the stars in the sky to the blades of grass around your feet. The two of them barely made it through a few drinks of the shine, but that didn’t matter. The rooftop of the shack was another world for them. From the top, they could see the light on in the living room of the house, meaning their mother was still awake, reading the bible as she always did of the evenings. All other windows in the house were dark, meaning their father had retired for the night. It was a time they felt safe, even though they were getting drunk right there at their own home.” Hardly an idyllic childhood, but Compton somehow manages to make it seem as if it were. He doesn’t, however, shy away from the realities of addiction. “The boy,” he writes, in a scene where Nick, Ward’s nephew, is in danger of overdosing, “lay across a mattress on the floor. Beside him was a dinner plate with pill powder still stuck to sections, covering part of one petal from the design of hearts and roses. It was one of their mother’s plates. Many suppers off that plate, and now this. The thought of it ran over Stan and he charged the bed and shook the boy by the shoulders, his head whipping back and then forward, powder flying from his nostrils as he came to and opened his eyes.” Compton plants the reader firmly in a place he knows well, and he does so on every page. “The town,” he writes, “was never truly quiet. There was a buzz, something electric going all the time. Streetlights, a piece of machinery at the truck garage across from the gas station, a low hum that seemed to come off the pavement, like the sun had pressed hard into it during the day and the heat sizzled up to the surface to join all that low sound. Sometimes it was hardly more than an occasional rattle from a Pepsi machine at the corner of the American Electric Power building.” After reading this passage, the small town is no longer simply a place; it has become a character all its own.Here, in a single sentence, the reader can see the connection between past and present: “The dark morning air smelled of vodka, sour mash and, faintly, old wood gone soft with years of rain soaking through the bark and into the ageless soil and rocks beneath the roots.” And here: “Nick moved away from the patch made from the bonfire, through a small collection of young trees, to the cliff no more than fifty feet or so out from the clearing. A low fog covered everything below, leaving but three or four mountaintops visible. The valley cradling the areas of Flatwoods and Big Fork was an ocean now and the mountaintops strangely colored icebergs. As the top ridge breeze kicked up, the fog moved like the slow motion waves of the sea. Nick looked out to the farthest tip of mountain in the distance and imagined it was an island, imagined living there and never speaking, never getting to know a single soul.”The imagery throughout is wonderful: Guns N’ Roses turned up loud; red cherry whiskey; a cigarette shaken loose from a hard pack; marijuana growing in the middle of a cornfield, hidden between the tall yellow stalks, an elderly farmer working in his garden nearby. The juxtaposition between the two generations is startling: the opportunities afforded the elders who grew up in a different time, no longer available to the young who are forced to adjust the only way they know how. “Mountain folks,” Sheldon writes, “are nothing if not industrious.” Brown Bottle is a violent story, yet one in which humanity somehow manages to shine. Compton has crafted a work of great beauty and great tragedy. Not an easy feat, but what a pleasure to read.
Sheldon Compton is a great writer.
2.5**From the back cover - Wade “Brown Bottle” Taylor is an alcoholic uncle trying to protect his nephew Nick from the hardness of their region, Eastern Kentucky, and the world in general. To end Nick’s involvement with drugs and drug dealers, Brown must first save himself, overcoming a lifetime spent convinced he is unworthy. Brown Bottle’ journey is one of selflessness and love, redemption and sacrifice, if only for a time. My reactionsI received this book from the publisher with a commitment to read, comment and participate in an on-line book chat with the author.Compton writes a gritty, no-holds-barred tale of a man struggling to do what is right. Brown’s sister has abandoned her son, Nick, and Brown tries his best to raise the boy, but Nick is in the grips of drugs and drug dealers. Brown recognizes the signs of despair and hopelessness in his nephew – he should, he lives in despair himself. Compton is best known for his short stories; this is his first full-length novel. His ability with the short-story format shows in his writing. There are several vignettes that would make great short stories all by themselves – Brown’s “relationship” with Blair for example, or how Mrs Bell gets addicted to painkillers. If there is a failing in this novel it’s that sometimes Compton fails to adequately weave the vignettes together. The novel is only 164 pages long, and could have used more connective tissue.
The title character of Brown Bottle might be a drunk from a long line of cruel and unlucky people, but he loves his nephew and as he faces down local drug dealers, a hired killer, and the law, that love is a force that proves more powerful than anybody expects. Sheldon Lee Compton writes a novel that pulls the reader inside the lives of people who live rough and die rough, yet he writes with deep, consistent respect for their humanity. There are circumstances of grace in the lives of these characters thrashing with addiction, poverty, and each other in Appalachian country. Compton never lets the reader forget the possibilities in peace and grace even as he turns an unflinching eye on the characters' poor choices, prospects, and devastation. This is gorgeous writing within a story that is true to the often chaotic form of the characters' hardscrabble lives. Honest and riveting work. Highly recommend.
This book is both brutal and beautiful, gritty and dreaming. The prose is tight and clean, the images vivid, and the emotion raw. It's a damn hard world, but Compton still finds beauty and humanity in the hardness. Wonderful.
Writing at the top of his game, Compton crafts a new wonderful slice of Appalachian fiction that is uniquely its own. While drawing comparisons to Larry Brown and others, Brown Bottle is one you should read and enjoy and appreciate it on its own merit. It's a great story, and I'm so glad it's out there for you to read now!