After more than a decade spent in and out of juvenile detention, halfway houses, and jail, Roy Alison returns to his rural hometown determined to do better, to be better. But what he finds is a working-class community devastated by the economic downturn--a town without anything to hold onto but the past.
Staying with his grandmother, Roy discovers a family history of good intentions and bad choices, of making do without much chance of doing better. Around him, families lose their sons to war, hunting accidents, drugs. And Roy, along with the town, falls into old patterns established generations ago.
A novel-in-stories in the tradition of Bonnie Jo Campbell, Donald Ray Pollock, Denis Johnson, and Alan Heathcock, Country Hardball is a powerfully observed and devastatingly understated portrait of the American working class.
"Steve Weddle's Country Hardball is a perfect combination of the brokenhearted and the just flat broke... Here's hoping Weddle never stops writing..." --Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike
Steve Weddle grew up on the border of Louisiana and Arkansas. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University, and currently works for a newspaper group. He lives with his family in Virginia. Find out more at SteveWeddle.com.
"Downright dazzling." --New York Times Book Review
"This debut collection of 20 tales takes a close, respectful look at poor folks in contemporary rural Arkansas. Dark, noirish and worth a look." --Kirkus Reviews
"Ex-con Roy Alison would like to go straight, but he can't seem to make up for past mistakes . . . Weddle's debut novel is a suspenseful series of interrelated stories . . . of people facing nothing but bad options, though Roy eventually manages to make something good come from his situation." --Publishers Weekly
"These skillfully wrought interconnected stories form a debut novel that is relentless in describing the lives of people who are captives not only of their environment but also of their own histories." --Booklist
"I cared about what happened to the residents of this rural southern community, I needed to know what kinds of shenanigans would happen next, I cried at deaths and gasped in all the appropriate places. You need to get yourself a copy of this book, like, immediately." --Book Snobbery
"I am about to go bonkers for a book. COUNTRY HARDBALL is a special book. It has the intimacy, the urgency, the understated language and the wicked syntax to please whatever reader is going to give it a chance. Read it, for it is a beautiful, haunting and tainted portrait of what America has become. COUNTRY HARDBALL is alive in a way most works of fiction aren't and will never be." --Dead End Follies
"Steve Weddle has given us an outstanding book. I hope people give it a shot. It's better than most of the stuff out there." - Naked But For A Loincloth blog
"This beautifully crafted saga, told in interlinking short story format.... In this small but powerful book...Weddle brings an artist's palette to his storytelling.... There is strength and beauty in this writing." - Reviewing the Evidence
"A debut novel that knocked my socks off, told in a series of stories." - Crimespree, "Jon's Gift Guide"
"Guess what? Tyrus wins again, issuing this novel in stories that is powerful in the way an accretion of details builds a larger world. A seemingly tossed-off remark here carries devastating consequences." - Grift Magazine, "Favorite Books of 2013"
"Country Hardball seeks the truth. The 18 stories are vignettes.... Together, in the big sweep, the gravity grows. And packs a wallop. There are glimmers of hope and humor and love amid the ruins." - Don't Need a Diagram
"Shiny bits of story weave in and out of this novel-in-stories, painting a lush portrait of economic and social hardship in a rural, Southern town." - LitReactor
"This novel-in-stories will have you grinding your teeth in mighty, marvelous suspense.... Weddle delivers a fresh dose of fiction that will pull your eyelids back and have you salivating for more stories. If there's one book you read this winter, it's this book, this author, this instant." - The Free Lance-Star