Gary Wilson’s debut novel is set in Bartlett’s Junction, Kansas, “An All-American City” and proud sponsor of the state’s largest 4th of July fireworks display. The story details the lives of Ronnie Blue, son of a local junk yard owner, and John Klein, son of the president of the town’s only bank. Once close high school friends, the young men subsequently drift apart, only to reconnect five years later during a fateful Independence Day celebration in their hometown that leaves one of the men murdered and the other eventually hounded to death.
An intensely moving story, Wilson’s novel takes a long and honest look at the economic and class divisions in our society that produce people such as Ronnie Blue. Wilson’s depth of character, coupled with a sophisticated style and poetic wordplay, makes SING RONNIE BLUE a book that appeals to a broad and appreciative audience.
With this debut, readers reading him for the first time will find out what I’ve known for 20 years, that Wilson is one of the best fiction writers around.
–Stephen Dixon, internationally renowned and multiple award-winning author of 18 novels and 18 collections of short stories, died in November 2019.
One sweltering Fourth-of-July a charming, unemployed grease monkey named Ronnie Blue celebrates his twenty-third birthday by taking his Wichita girlfriend down the road to his hometown of Bartlett’s Junction. Dark secrets from the past hover over his homecoming, and Ronnie Blue finds himself locked in an inevitable conflict with his former best friend, John Klein, son of the town’s most prominent family. Both men are caught between the tug of their unlived dreams and the grip of their shared past. In this striking first novel, Gary Wilson uses language as stark and relentless as his Kansas landscape to uncover the longings and violence that simmer in the heart of the country.
–Allen Wier, author of Tehano
Gary D. Wilson’s style is so taut, his lyrical language so precise and seductive, we can’t believe what’s cracking open before us: two men’s lives, fused and fraught, brought together again, by chance on the Fourth of July. Sing, Ronnie Blue begins with an early morning bedevilment by firecrackers; it ends with an inferno of historic entanglements. Reading this novel, I had to remind myself to breathe, and when I did, my exhalation was a feeble thanks that I’ve been spared the unforeseeable consequences of my own intoxicating and half-cocked choices. So far.
–Jeanine Hathaway, author of Motherhouse and The Self as Constellation (Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize for Poetry)
I will not be recommending this to my Sunday School class.
A NEW NOVEL—THE NARROW WINDOW—IS FORTHCOMING IN February 2024