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Logan native publishes his first novel

January 9, 2019

By A.M. STONE

For the Logan Banner

BARNABUS - Jordan Farmer knew he wanted to be a writer at an early age. Growing up in Logan, he loved reading and constantly sought out new titles and authors. Gradually, he noticed many of the books he loved did not resemble the world that surrounded him in southern West Virginia.

“I was reading about detectives in Brooklyn,” Farmer said. “I’ve never been to Brooklyn.”

Farmer felt disturbed reading about characters and places that did not ring true about rural America - especially the rural America he knew.

“Most narratives about West Virginia were constructed by people who weren’t from here. A lot of those stories feel exploitive,” Farmer said. “That bothered me.”

“The Pallbearer” is Farmer’s debut novel and a hauntingly stark reminder of the world today in rural Appalachia.

“It was important for me to write about an underrepresented place,” Farmer said. “I wanted to see more stories about my home that felt authentic.”

Farmer credited Lee Maynard’s 1988 semi-autobiographical novel “Crum” for wanting to spin a yarn true for many in coal country today.

“Lee Maynard can write an amazing book about his back yard,” Farmer said, “Maybe I can, too.”

“The Pallbearer” is set in fictional Lynch, West Virginia. Lynch is not what it used to be. The town is bedighted by condemned homes, abandoned coal mines and the ever present strangle of addiction. Families that choose to remain are victims of the manipulative and cruel Ferris Gilbert - Lynch’s number one bad man.

The novel features an assortment of characters.

“There are some criminal and villainous characters,” Farmer said, “I tried to write both realistically and empathetically instead of just portraying them as bad guys. No one thinks of himself as a bad guy.”

Farmer added he wanted the characters to be something readers can identify with even if the characters are disagreeable.

Farmer began writing the book in 2013 while he was still completing his PhD in English from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. His stories have appeared in The Southwest Review, Pembroke Magazine and others.

In recommending the book, Smith Henderson, author of “Fourth of July Creek,” wrote “A feat of sustained tension and deep humanity. Farmer’s moving debut gripped me from the first page and did not let go or disappoint. Get acquainted with Farmer’s work now - you’re going to be hearing about it for a long time.”

“The Pallbearer” is available in most bookstores and online from Amazon, IndieBound and Barnes & Noble.

“The Pallbearer” is published by Skyhorse Publishing.

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