Review & Giveaway: Driving Alone by Kevin Lynn Helmick
Genre: Southern Gothic
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publish Date: December 1, 2012
Format: Paperback | 102 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5
Billy Keyhoe is a loser. Thirty years old with no job, no plan and a wreck of a life. And now he’s really gone and messed things up: An argument with his girlfriend turned brutal with Billy beating her badly and an attempted robbery at Earl’s 66 netted him a tank of gas, twenty dollars and a shotgun blast when the clerk discovered what he was up to.
Now Billy is on the run driving his daddy’s old ’65 Caddy out of Georgia and heading for West Texas. Along the way he picks up a beautiful but mysterious hitchhiker who appears out of nowhere. She tells him her name is Feather, like in a bird. When Billy thinks to himself, “stripper name”, Feather replies, “I ain’t no stripper”. Feather knows what Billy is thinking, and Billy is charmed by Feather. As they drive, Billy’s life begins to unfold in a journey of self-discovery as he thinks back on his parents and his dysfunctional childhood.
Who is Feather? She knows Billy and has the power to manipulate him yet he can’t remember when or where he met her. Revealing much more about this tightly woven Southern Gothic would ruin the story for the reader. This is the point at which the plot takes off and the tension and suspense begins to build into a mind-bending psychological tale.
The characters are nicely developed and at times I was tempted to sympathize with Billy as the layers of his life were peeled away, exposing his humanity. This was fast-paced and compelling with vivid, descriptive prose. The gritty language and slang gave the story an authentic feel. The foreshadowing and symbolism revealed gives the astute reader hints of what is to come.
The shorter format of the novella was the perfect length for this dark, engrossing tale. Recommended, especially for fans of the genre.
About the Author
Kevin Lynn Helmick, born 1963, Fort Madison IA, is the author of The Lost Creek Journal, selective poems and flash fiction, Clovis Point, a rural noir thriller, Sebastian Cross, a literary adventure novel, Heartland Gothic, a literary black comedy, and Driving Alone, a dark southern gothic romance novella. Growing up seven years younger than the youngest of four brothers, his views of the world were largely shaped by 60′s and 70′s pop culture, by Elvis Presley, James Bond, Andy Warhol, comic books and of course the music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Doors.
Kevin has had several short stories published including “Allison,” in Manarchy Magazine, “My Muse Plays Hard to Get” in Pulp Metal Magazine, and ”No 7 Valentine” in Noir at the Bar II. All proceeds from Noir at the Bar II go to support independent bookseller Subterranean Books of St. Louis. All Kevin’s books and full bio are available at Amazon Books.
Kevin keeps a blog with other short stories, commentaries and guest writers at The Write Room Cafe.
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The publisher has generously offered a copy to give away to one of my readers. If you would like to be entered in the drawing let me know in the comments. US/Canada only, no PO Boxes. Last day to enter is Wednesday, February 13th. I will choose one random winner who will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address.
[Contest Now Closed]