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The Black Spring Press Group

Furnace Creek

Furnace Creek

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2023 Awards:

  • WINNER, Debut Novel, Next Generation Indie Book Awards
  • WINNER, LGBTQIA Fiction, National Indie Excellence Awards
  • HONORABLE MENTION, LGBT+ Fiction, Forward Independent Book of the Year Awards
  • HONORABLE MENTION, General Fiction, Eric Hoffer Excellence in Independent Publishing Awards

“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

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 galvanised the world in those decades. "Endearing and knowing," writes Colm Toibin; "a natural novelist," opines Michael Cunningham.

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 Creek leaps the frame of Dickens’ masterpiece to provide a contemporary meditation on the perils of desire, ambition, love, loss, and family.

In the New Books Network Podcast, Joseph Boone discusses Furnace Creek, click to listen!

“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

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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.

In this online presentation recorded on February 6 2024, Joseph Allen Boone, a 2014–15 Stanford Humanties Center fellow, reads excerpts from Furnace Creek. He discusses the arc of his career and how his pursuits as a scholar of the novel and gender have culminated in this book.

Reviews for Furnace Creek

September 30, 2022

Read the Los Angeles Review of Books review for Furnace Creek

"The upheavals of the era, including the struggle for racial justice, the Vietnam War, class stratification and inequality, and women’s rights and gay rights, provide the backdrop for Newt’s story, told in his own voice..." Reviewed by Suzanne Keen.

Read Dickens for the Civil Rights–Era South: On Joseph Allen Boone’s “Furnace Creek”.

September 14, 2022

Read Southern Review of Books article for Furnace Creek

"The richness of these characters makes Furnace Creek work brilliantly. Boone gives them stories that compel the reader to see them as individuals in a specific time and place, not just characters suggesting Great Expectations. Newt is 35 when he is telling this story; its immediacy has become part of his identity." Reviewed by Barry V Qualls

“Furnace Creek”: Lyrical, Memorable, and Character-Driven

May/June 2022

Read The Gay & Lesbian Review article for Furnace Creek

"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." Reviewed by Lewis DeSimone.

Read A Pip for the 60's