Jon Basoff is probably best known as the founder of New Pulp Press. which has given us books like Jake Hinkson’s Hell On Church Street and Matthew McBride’s Frank Sinatra In A Blender. One of the first books from New Pulp was his own, under the name Nate Flexer, a pitch black novel called The Disassembled Man. He somehow finds a way to go even darker in his second outing, Corrosion.
The story looks mainly at two characters. Joseph Downs is the main lead. An Iraqi war veteran disfigured from an IED blast, he gets stranded in a southern mountain town where his past seals his fate after he gets involved with a dangerous bar fly. All seems to go down an entertaining, if familiar, noir road, until we’re introduced to Benton Faulk. Raised in a home of twisted religion that makes a Flannery O’Connor character seem secular, he escapes his circumstances into obsessions with a violent comic book character and a woman. Both men have their share of secrets that unravel into a night of violence inside a mountain cabin.
Even though it relies less on shock value than Disassembled Man (though there are still quite a few shocks), the book’s questionable narrators create a much darker mood. Violence hangs in the air even when there is no obvious threat of it. These damaged men are missing a piece of themselves that make them outcasts, driving them to be both resigned to their fate and taking desperate means to be a part of it.
Basoff has given us a hybrid of Faulkner Southern Gothic and Jim Thompson psycho noir with a story both timely and timeless about war and poverty’s damage on society and the individuals it hurts the most. Here we see painful and frightening ways those individuals lash back.
Copies of Corrosion are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.