Advance Praise for The Portable Son:
Peter Traxler is missing something. Ever since he left his family, his friends, and his adolescence behind in Jackson, Miss., he’s feeling lost. Despite the outward appearance of success—job, acquaintances, girlfriends—Peter is melancholy, his thoughts returning often to the past: “cotton diving” with his best friend Jeremy; sexual encounters with the local girls; the loss of his father and its impact on his mother; teenage angst bubbling over into semiviolent outbursts. His connection to his old friends is growing weak and distant; “when you’ve been on party manners with so many people for so long, it’s hard not to growl,” he says. Hathcock’s captivating debut collection of nine closely linked stories reads much like a novel. While many take place in the 1990s, the powerful Mississippi setting often feels akin to the American farm culture of the 1950s (at least until Jeremy dresses up like Ricky Martin for Halloween, or Peter’s Dad watches Nash Bridges on TV). The ghosts of the Old South are present throughout, even while the main character’s struggles are distinctively contemporary. It’s all here, the awkwardness of reconnecting with childhood friends, the impossibility of integrating your youth with your adulthood, the longing for home when home is a time and not a place: Hathcock writes haunting, unforgettable stories. Permalink here.
― Publishers Weekly
Barrett Hathcock is a writer I know and think is one to watch. I look forward to the debut of his work.
― Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce, Lulu in Marrakech, Into a Paris Quartier, and others
In the telling stories of The Portable Son, this son of the South, Barrett Hathcock, laminates the fine layers of southern soft pine with the addictive adhesive grammar of neo-gothic and hyper-realistic glue. He has, in this stunning work, managed to coat all the famous tropes and memes of the region with this wistful, whispering finish that is always universal, lasting, highly reflective and reflexive. The Portable Son makes new the New South effortlessly, effervescently, and endlessly.
― Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone
In The Portable Son, Barrett Hathcock has captured to a remarkable degree what it was to be an adolescent in the 1990s. But not just that: he updates the South for a new generation of readers. Anyone who reads this delightful book will understand that the great works of Southern fiction are encoded in his DNA.
―Scott Esposito, critic, writer, and editor
The Portable Son heralds the arrival of an important new writer from the South. Barrett Hathcock knows his material well and writes with both verve and sensitivity, in stories that surprise in countless ways. I'm keeping an eye on this guy, and you should too, as you will discover in these pages.
―Steve Yarbrough, author of Visible Spirits and The End of California