“Loved this damned book.”
Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers, writer, performer
“Loved this damned book. Funny, horrific and killer great ending. Wonderful and wicked. “
“…a road trip straight to hell.”
Rodger L. Brown, author of “Party Out of Bounds” and “Ghost Dancing on the Cracker Circuit: The Culture of Festivals in the American South”
“Somewhere near the beginning of JD Hollingsworth’s South Georgia saga of an accidentally visionary taxidermist, one character says to another something like, ‘You don’t hear the one that gets you.’ That unprovable truism usually applies to the proverbial bullet with your name on it, but it could also as easily describe the unexpected addictive appeal of Hollingsworth’s “The Work” and the seductive Alice-like gopher tortoise hole it hooks you into, despite – or perhaps because of? – the bramble of poisoned-moonshine dialect that opens the book. At first it seems like “The Work” will be a Flannery-meets-Finnegan’s Wake riff; but you soon enough realize that what appears to be Hollingsworth’s foolhardy literary courage is actually a scrupulously accurate phonetic rendering of the pinched drawl of those wiregrass rattlesnake hunters we know and love. You settle back in the passenger’s seat helpless as a gasoline-tranked diamondback and let Ansel Bragg take the wheel.
“Hollingsworth’s text is rigorously streamlined to keep the story amped to 11. (I can only imagine what ribald ventures into natural history he ruthlessly edited out between first draft and last.) At the same time, though, the author retains just enough entertaining smart-kid esoterica to crack little whiplash flourishes of cultural-historical reference and stylistic mimicry throughout. In the end, Hollingsworth masters the contradiction and conjures up a NASCAR-fast narrative told in a King James cadence, which is the only voice suitable for telling this tale of a hero and his hubris on a road trip straight to hell.”
“A fascinating read!”
Martha LaFollette Miller, Professor Emerita University of North Carolina at Charlotte
“With irony, subtle poignancy and humor, JD Hollingsworth explores alienation in late 20th Century America through inventively evoked sociocultural contexts. His characters—cynical loners, self-deluded dreamers or simply survivors—teeter on the edge between misfit and Everyman. In a world where meaningful bonding has failed, “the lonely, the horny, the angry and thirsty” seek human connection in in whatever tawdry or grotesque watering place they can find. Although Hollingsworth sets his stories in both the rural South and the urban North, his depiction of the denizens of an imaginary town in rural South Georgia is particularly brilliant for its portrayal of a layered multitude of social identities that historical forces have created. In Hollingsworth’s writing, material culture becomes a language in and of itself, and oral speech patterns , demeanor, and wardrobe and various other accoutrements form part of the peculiar and fascinating social discourse. A fascinating read!”
“Doug Hollingsworth Pens a Masterpiece”
Pete McCommons, Flagpole Magazine
“Doug’s novella is titled The Work, and it is stunning—illuminated by his eerie, woodcut-like illustrations, too. I’m no professor of English, but in addition to being blown away by this book, I can also see a little of how Doug did it — his ear for language, his eye for telling details, his sense of humanity caught in the forces of good and evil, with the cosmic shooting right into the everyday.”
Read entire review here
“…will soon be regarded a modern classic.”
Michael G. Perrow, author of “Five Sequences for the Country at Night.”
“It takes time to tell a story well. Not the time to craft it, necessarily, since the gift of sentence and scene and plot craft comes at different speeds to different writers. But actually understanding HOW to tell a story takes a lot of listening, being quiet as another person weaves a tale, hearing how a well-told story unfolds and draws you in with language tuned to a situation that the story teller is unfolding, events — however small — that spin up from inchoate, emerging details and suddenly make the kind of sense you never before imagined following. That’s when you know you’re hooked as a listener, and that’s the sort of listener that makes a great writer.
“JD Hollingsworth is that sort of writer. His ear for the speech of his imagined Utinahica — a scattered community in the flat woodlands of South Georgia — puts forward words that make you sit up as you read, listening to something you fully understand, but have never heard described before. Hollingsworth’s first novel “The Work” is a page turner in the way James M Cain can turn a character’s curiosity quickly to mischief, and before you know it you, as a reader, can’t look away, or stop.
“Not long before the end of The Work, the protagonist Ansel finds himself out of his rural element, in the middle of Atlanta, and stops ‘at a corner to look up at traffic and saw a man with a shopping cart and his pants around his ankles ‘walking’ across the street, shifting one fallen pants bound ankle then the other towards him. Ansel couldn’t unlock his gaze — was frozen, overpowered by the man’s superior will. Hazel had warned him about the city: don’t make eye contact. But now it was too late, he was paralyzed, like how he heard snakes hypnotize birds before they strike.’
“You not only get the visual details, but the sense that something’s transforming before your eyes, and whatever it is, it’s coming for you. ‘You cain’t ‘scape me,’ says the man with the fallen pants. As a reader, you’re just as transfixed as Ansel, carried along on a course of events that harken back to the naturalism of Zola and Dreiser.
“Ansel is a taxidermist, a man whose craft depends to a large extent on illusion, which means extreme attention to detail. Now, he’s on a mission to promote his crowning achievement, an arrangement of animal parts that has captivated thousands of viewers and represents his mysterious effort “to get right with God.” No further plot details from me…
“This first novel is just part one of a three/novel series, interrelated like several recent novelists have done with their complex tales— Louise Erdrich comes to mind. This is great fiction, not just read on the page, but born from the act of listening, and realizing the deep value in giving your own listener the gift of detail and place within a story that I think will soon be regarded a modern classic.”
“…makes a large and powerful impact.”
Mark Katzman – Athens UnChartered, interview
“The Work is the first volume of a trilogy – Frankenstein’s Paradox and Screven County Ruby,are forthcoming – published by Casa Forte Press. Pete McCommons, Editor of Flagpole, calls The Work a masterpiece. That’s not a word you just sling around, not from McCommons. But in this case, he’s got it right. It’s not a large book, page-count-wise, but it makes a large and powerful impact. The Work is a bright new Big Bang in Southern literature. It’s chock-full of weirdness and a near-other-worldly dialect that’ll have you going back twice. You will meet, among other oddballs, one Ansel Bragg, from Utinahica, Georgia (there is not one on any map), who wrestles with a full-blown Godly reckoning.”
Fiona Padfield (UK) author of “Strip,” “Allegation 17”
“How on earth did Hollingsworth conjure up this crazy story? Where did it come from? It’s hilarious and moving in equal proportion and completely idiosyncratic. Casa Forte has a ‘find’ with this one. I’ve heard of the Bible Belt, now I’ve visited! The wood cuts are integral to the world Hollingsworth depicts. The fact the reader is transported, living alongside this freaky, but oh so human, collection of characters, investing in their dreams and disappointments, is down to Hollingsworth’s skills as a writer and artist. It’s also terrifically funny. I chuckled my way through. He’s a master of comic timing with an eye for the absurd. I don’t want to say too much, but armadillos will forever take on new meaning. The ending of this book is superb. I can’t recommend it enough.”