Furnace Creek

By Joseph A. Boone


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Taking its inspiration from Great Expectations, this novel teases us with the question of what Pip might have been like had he grown up in the American South of the 1960s and 1970s and faced the explosive social issues—racial injustice, a war abroad, women’s and gay rights, class struggle—that galvanized the world in those decades.

A guilty encounter with an escaped felon, a summer spent working for an eccentric man with a mysterious past, conflicted erotic feelings for his employer’s niece and nephew—these events set the stage for a journey of sexual and moral discovery that takes Newt Seward to New England, Rome, and Paris—all before returning home to confront his life’s many expectations and disappointments.

Deftly combining elements of coming-of-age story, novel of erotic discovery, Southern Gothic fiction, and detection-mystery thriller, Furnace Creekleaps the frame of Dickens’ masterpiece to provide a contemporary meditation on the perils of desire, ambition, love, loss, and family.

Joseph Allen Boone is the author of three works of non-fiction, a musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man, and a forthcoming short story collection. A finalist in four international competitions, Furnace Creek is his debut novel. The author is the recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, ACLS, and numerous other fellowships. An endowed professor at the University of Southern California, the author resides in Los Angeles.

 


 

"The love of literature hinges not just on beautiful writing but an awareness that the stories of the past have a lot to teach us about the present. By transporting Dickens into our era, Boone demonstrates just that." - Lewis DeSimone, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide 

 

"Dickens for the Civil Rights–Era South" - Los Angeles Review of Books


“With lyric beauty, welcome frankness, and rare emotional urgency, Boone reimagines Dickens’s Great Expectations in the American South, in the tumultuous 1960s, with a queer perspective and countless new and illuminating approaches. Boone’s fresh vision of the tale [is] always true to the realities of class, race, and sexuality of its milieu. Exquisite prose and a storyteller’s elan keep the story going.”--Publishers Weekly

"Furnace Creek is an ingenious re-telling and re-imagining of Dickens' 'Great Expectations.' It plays innocence against experience, youth against age, privilege against poverty, in an America of the 1960s. Its narrator is endearing and knowing and also, like a novelist, a born noticer."- Colm Tóibín, author of Brooklyn

"Boone’s prose is lyrical and inventive, merging Dickensian wit and texture with a dash of Southern gothic.    Just the sort of novel with which bibliophiles will be happy to linger. A queer bildungsroman in a classic, stylish package." -Kirkus Reviews

“A playful reimagining of Dickens, a tautly plotted thriller, a beautifully observed coming of age story: Furnace Creek is a novel that is as hard to categorize as it is to put down. It seizes you in the opening chapters and refuses to let you go.” - Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Booker Prize Judge and the author of Becoming Dickens

"No single review could possibly encompass the abundance of lives and life underway in Furnace Creek—nor should anyone wish it to. That’s why we read books like this one: to get happily lost in their capacious, prodigious pages. It’s a satisfyingly substantial libation built upon a potent spirit." Greg Bills, author of Consider This Home and Fearful Symmetry


“Joseph Boone has written a page-turning novel, a spirited American retelling of an English classic. The American South is our own Dickensian England, and Boone brings both worlds vividly alive with his ebullient prose. A joyously ambitious debut!” 
- Marianne Wiggins, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee for Evidence of Things Unseen


“Furnace Creek is a funny, moving, and true rendition of everybody’s story: surviving our childhoods, which can be uniquely challenging if you’re Southern, and queer. Boone is a natural novelist, and Furnace Creek is a genuine accomplishment.”
- Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize for The Hours

“Stretching from the American South to the Ivy League and the dream of Rome and Paris, Furnace Creek is a sweeping, Gothic tale of sex, race, and a young man’s education. I was totally entertained and, most of all, seduced.”
- Viet Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer

"Furnace Creek has everything brilliant novels have: characters we love, a story that touches the reader deeply, and a haunting quality that reaches beyond the pages, informing our current lives. It is also wickedly funny, that rare novel full of charming humor and sharp cultural commentary, masterful at every turn."  - Dana Johnson, Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and author of Elsewhere, California

 

To listen to a podcast with Joseph A. Boone discussing Furnace Creek, please visit: