Publisher: Coffee House Press
Published Sept. 25, 2012
“[A]n unforgettable tale of the savagery of antebellum America…”
— Publisher’s Weekly
As a teenage girl, Ginny marries Linus Lancaster, her mother’s second cousin, and moves to his Kentucky pig farm “ninety miles from nowhere.” In the shadows of the lush Kentucky landscape, Ginny discovers the empty promises of Lancaster’s “paradise”—a place where the charms of her husband fall away to reveal a troubled man and cruel slave owner. Ginny befriends the young slaves Cleome and Zinnia who work at the farm—until Lancaster’s attentions turn to them, and she finds herself torn between her husband and only companions. The events that follow Lancaster’s death change all three women for life. Haunting, chilling, and suspenseful, Kind One is a powerful tale of redemption and human endurance in antebellum America.
“Hunt is a writer who, to steal a phrase from Allan Gurganus, is ‘still loyal at the level of the sentence.’” — Johannes Lichtman, The Oxford American
“LAIRD HUNT’S FICTION lends an ominous tint to the familiar.” — Los Angeles Review of Books
“…minimal, immersive, and utterly compelling” — Vertigo
“[A]n unforgettable tale of the savagery of antebellum America…” — Publisher’s Weekly
“There is always a surprise in the voice and in the heart of Laird Hunt’s stories—with its echoes of habit caught in a timeless dialect, so we see the world he gives us as if new. ‘You hear something like that and it walks out the door with you.’” — Michael Ondaatje
“[Kind One is] Laird Hunt’s haunting meditation on the crushing legacy of slavery in the American South…” — Gina Webb, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“…this gorgeous and terrifying novel.” — Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia
Laird Hunt’s writing consistently consigns existential dread into the service of narratives that read the way blindfolded roller-coaster rides might feel. — Shelf Awareness
“Kind One is a major achievement for Hunt . . . in its study of perpetuation of violence, it calls to mind Faulkner’s structures by way of Albert Camus and the dark dreamscapes of Jean Cocteau.” — David Varno, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The dark, silent, forbidding Ohio River flows like a line of moral demarcation in Hunt’s…latest literary foray. — Kirkus, Starred Review
Once I lived in a place where demons dwelled. I was one of them. I am old and I was young then, but truth is this was not so long ago, time just took the shackle it had on me and gave it a twist. I live in Indiana now, if you can call these days I spend in this house living. I might as well be hobbled. A thing that lurches across the earth. One bright morning of the world I was in Kentucky. I remember it all. The citizens of the ring of hell I have already planted my flag in do not forget.
Charlotte County. Ninety miles from nowhere. It was 400 acres, varied as to elevation, with good drainage to a slow-running creek. There was a deep well, fine pasture for the horses. Much of the land never went under cultivation and there were always frogs and owls for the night and foxes to trot bloody-jawed through the dawn. Birds must have liked its airs because the airs were full of them. A firearm went off independently and we had half a flock for supper. In season, we had fresh corn and beans and tomatoes and squash. There was a boy who kept it all in shape. Two more looked to the pigs. The girls cooked and kept house and kept me.
It was a pretty country. Greens were greens. There was snow for Christmas and holly bushes to make sure it looked white. Breezes and flowers for the summer. Trees in autumn time stuffed with red and yellow leaves. Bulbs to crack open the earth when it came up on spring. It has been my whole excuse for a life since I held my breath and pointed my back at that place, but my mind has never learned to hold what transpired there against it. The land is the land and the land washes itself clean. I had a father who had been through battles who told me that.
Still, even if they are all gone, even if they are all scattered or dead, I would not want to come over the rise and across the stone bridge and arrive there again. No, I would not want that.