Concord, Virginia

A Southern Town in Eleven Stories

Peter Neofotis

St. Martin's Press

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“In the places set between folds in the Earth, voices echo against mountains…”

 

So begins the story of Concord, Virginia, one of those places set between folds in the Earth. It’s a place like almost any other Southern town, filled with self-righteous preachers, descendants of slaves, upstanding town leaders, and the ladies of the local bridge club. But Concord has something else: a dark heart. A church has been abandoned. Vultures have been roosting in the trees at George MacJenkins’s house. Poisonous snakes follow Rachel Stetson into the river for a swim. And the ghost of Thomas Jefferson has recently spoken through a man chained to fate. Deftly spinning a web of stories from the voices of the town, Peter Neofotis creates a captivating portrait---comic, dramatic, bombastic, and tragic---of a place trapped in time and possessed by the valley landscape that surrounds it. In the tradition of great Southern gothic writing, Peter Neofotis brings to life the town of Concord, Virginia, allowing even the ancient voices there to swirl through the glazed brick streets like the Fork River. This collection of short stories is a pulse-raising debut by a writer who’s created a place the reader will never forget.

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Reviews

Praise for Concord, Virginia

Advance Praise for Concord, Virginia, winner of Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Medal for Best Novella

“This colorful debut collection consists of 11 interlinked stories set in a fictitious Shenandoah Valley town between the early 1950s and late ’70s. The stories exhibit an Appalachian Gothic vibe, and their outlandish, often violent plots draw on the antics of the local eccentrics... Neofotis smartly captures a sometimes creepy, sometimes beautiful corner of Americana.”-Publisher’s Weekly

“From story to story in this collection, Peter Neofotis develops a vision centered in the various and compelling characters of Concord, Virginia.  Starting with the complex inter-relationships among the people of the town, Neofotis is inspired to see into their friendships deeper layers of history and mythology - with an echo of Aeschylus.  Neofotis’ vision is of a town crying from its wounds, the wounds of America, but a town also joyful in the victories of America.  His stories, like his extraordinary performances of them, move from tears to laughter, from darkness to brightness.  His writing contains within it a profound moral sense that revives in the reader a long lost reason for reading and an engagement with life’s deepest meanings.”- David Plante, author of The Country and National Book Award Nominee The Family 

“Beautiful, often even Homeric portrayals of relationships black and white.  A community’s salute to a mother, night swimming lovers, and a flood – all set in a mountain river and town we love.”-Sally Mann, photographer/author of Immediate Family and Deep South

“If a Eurodra Welty Morgana story married a Garcia Marzquez Macondo tale, their offspring would be a story by Peter Neofotis.  His daring imagination, coupled with a precise and passionate eye for the natural world, brings his Virginia world to life with a great vividness.”-Mary Gordon, bestselling author of Final Payments

“The Southern Gothic genre is marvelously reincarnated in these beguiling stories... Eerily magnificent.”-John Townsend, The Star Tribune

“Written in neo-Southern Gothic style... The tales are intensely interwoven, with many of the same characters appearing in more than one of these free-standing episodes. Yet there is a cumulative buildup from tale to tale, and an increasing richness of texture as one reads further and deeper into the often riveting and always engaging revelations. The particular characters and circumstances in Concord, Va., reflect the regional richness of mid-20th-century Shenandoah Valley...There is whimsy and poignancy in his tales, and violence... [an] eloquent text.”-Jim Cavener, Asheville Citizen-Times

“‘Concord, Virginia’ bristles with dark doings -- sometimes hilarious, sometimes gruesome. The genre could be called supernatural realism, or neo-Southern gothic. The telling draws on natural science, Greek tragedy (a black man chained by the Klan to the Natural Bridge, attacked by vultures, comforted by a mockingbird, is Prometheus Bound), American Indian folklore, gay history, Thomas Jefferson's life, local politics and other serious readings. This choiring of voices is a remarkable accomplishment for a young man who, like a songstress in the book who moves to Manhattan, had a song brewing within him about community but didn't know how to release it. He has released it, and it is worth giving yourself over to his imaginative leaps to experience this work as one might a weirdly familiar dream.”-Doug Cumming, The Roanoke Times

“Concord stands on its own as a book. In fact, I highly recommend it. From the first sentence, Neofotis reveals himself as a talented writer, his work walking the line between charming day-in-the-life anecdotes (think: Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days) and something more esoteric (Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology). Within Concord, people relate to each other and to the environment. They are quirky, imperfect, racist and judgmental. They do bad things, and sometimes they right those wrongs, but the stories are less about redemption than they are about the human condition... It’s poignant, yet Neofotis finds room for humor as well.”-Alli Marshall, The Mountain XPress

“Each of the 11 stories is worthy of attention... Neofotis shows a keen sensitivity to nature. That is part of what gives his writing such a strong sense of place. At the same time, a powerful strain of mysticism informs his work. His stories are closer in spirit to Ray Bradbury than William Faulkner. He is an adept wordsmith who evokes his setting in both a physical and emotional sense. As he says in his prologue, Concord, Va., is one of those rare and special places that birth stories and folklore.”-Greg Langley, The Advocate

“In case you’ve been wondering what happened to the great American tradition of storytelling, look to Peter Neofotis. His extraordinary first collection, Concord, Virginia: A Southern Town in Eleven Stories is the sort of work you’ll feel like reading aloud. Set in a fictitious town, these fresh, original stories, replete with wit and keen observation of human nature, are reminiscent of Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams. Woven dexterously throughout, Neofotis’s characters come alive with tenderness, humor and passion to try to untangle the mysteries of life and love as well as to grapple with broader issues that continue to confront society like racism, bigotry and the values important to a well-spent life. Neofotis’s exquisitely felt and rendered prose often seems to border on poetry, myth and legend.” -Wilson Kidde, Radical Faerie Digest

“Peter Neofotis carefully weaves together a fictional patchwork of voices, characters and history of a close-knit bygone Southern town torn between tradition and modernity. Drawn from his experiences growing up in the South, Concord, Virginia is a strong debut for Neofotis, who previously received acclaim for sharing these stories in an off-Broadway one-man show (a "panegyric performance" as he describes it). Equally Gothic, haunting, humorous, touching: each short story is captivating enough to stand on its own, but strengthened by interwoven story lines and themes from its companions.”-The Edge


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About the Author

Peter Neofotis

Peter Neofotis has worked by day at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and served as a contributing author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. By night he has written and performed the stories of Concord, Virginia at several New York theaters. He lives in New York City.

Peter Neofotis

Peter Neofotis

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Available Formats and Book Details

Concord, Virginia
A Southern Town in Eleven Stories
Peter Neofotis

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
July 2009
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312537371
ISBN10: 0312537379
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 192 pages
$19.99

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
July 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429969505
ISBN10: 1429969504
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 160 pages
$7.99
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