Soil by Jamie Kornegay © 2015 Simon & Schuster
Jay Mize’s experimental farm is a disaster. Nothing will grow, and Jay’s wife has left him. A flood destroys what little remains, and then Jay discovers a dead body on his property left by floodwater. Jay is paranoid and reclusive, so rather than report the body and have police crawling around and asking questions, Jay disposes of the body, except for a hand, which is carried off by a dog. Then a deputy shows up asking about a missing person, making Jay even more paranoid, though he is unaware the deputy has eyes for Jay’s estranged wife and is merely checking out his would-be girlfriend’s ex.
That’s the Soil setup, from which Jay becomes increasingly irrational and ultimately dangerous. The story is chock full of quirky, rural, one-dimensional characters, one of which, unfortunately, is Jay, and no, his last paragraph epiphany does not redeem him.
Soil was billed as a dark comedy, and there are a few laughs, but the overall story is anything but lighthearted. The main character is an asshole who deserves every bad thing that happens to him. He deserves a lot more bad things given how he damages others, especially his wife and child. I couldn’t root for Jay, or even care about him, on any level. The only way Kornegay could have made up for such a downer main character was if the story was a laugh riot, but it was only amusing here and there.
Maybe a collection of weirdos being mean to each other will appeal to some readers, but Soil never grew on me. If you think you’d like it, you can come dig it out of my recycling bin.