Full disclosure I do know this author in a sense, so this review and interview are more conversational and less formal. I once wrote an essay in undergrad about his debut memoir Publish This Book: The Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold and Published This Very Book and tweeted at him that I did so. In 2010 he returned my message, read my essay and ever since then we've been chatting and accidentally living in the same cities for brief periods of time. I until now have been avoiding his meeting because to this day his writing has made me laugh and feel like I will never measure up.
When invited to read Stephen Markley's book and interview him it was more as a colleague and less as someone to interview for my magazine. With that being said let's dive in!
Ohio is about four friends whose lives intersect one fateful night in 2013. The book travels around in time about these friends in "New Canaan" Ohio which represents an "every town" mentality in the midwest. From someone who's never truly lived in a small town, but have visited enough to get an idea of what it's like to live there Markley does an incredible job of synthesizing the daily lives of small town. The book weaves in themes of global warming, Iraq war, political movements, drugs, sex, and violence. I had no idea what was coming, but this book is everything that Markley is as a lovely human. He writes with such passion and detail. All he wants is to tell his truth even though at a book at almost 500 pages it's worth it to the end. This book is a small story told in five parts. Each having a purpose but never revealing more than it should. For me, the last 100 pages were the pay off to everything that he had building.
If you stick with the realism and grit of these characters it will give you time to reflect on this countries inability to progress towards a peaceful world. The one Markley depicts only shows that after 2001 life has only gotten more chaotic in the US. He chose small town America to display a soldier's funeral and a wild man running highly intoxicated through the dark New Canaan's streets.
Markley as a writer is witty and satirical. From his debut memoir back in 2010 Publish This Book: The Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold and Published This Very Book, he integrates pop humor, boy bands, and 90s rap all through the lives of his characters. In a way, the book is cinematic down to the posters the characters had on their bedroom walls.
For me, Markley has written a novel for this generation of young people growing up in the age of emerging technology and wars that are supposed to matter but are easily brushed aside and forgotten about.
Listen in to this delightful interview with my writer crush Stephen Markley.
Ohio comes out August 21st, 2018 wherever books are sold. SO GO BUY IT, PEOPLE. YOU WON'T REGRET IT. Or maybe you will. But go support an awesome new writer, who's not that new. I mean he's a little new, but not to me.
To purchase the book click HERE