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The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles

a novel

Gregory Hill

Johnny Riles is in a rough patch. He’s lonesome, he’s drunk, and someone’s murdered his horse. He spends his days searching—for the mysterious killer, for his brother’s soul, for a sober reason to live. In this off-kilter tale spun out with dry humor, Johnny delves beneath stark Western landscapes both literal and figurative to unearth the truths behind his nightmares.

Booklist Review by Bill Ott

The Riles brothers couldn’t be more different. Kitch is a high-living, coke-sniffing pro basketball player in the old ABA (circa 1970s), and his older brother, Johnny, is managing the family farm by himself in rural—way rural—Colorado, dealing with hard realities like “You can’t sell cattle with pink eye.” This is Johnny’s story, about a murdered horse, a woman who lives in a cave with a probably dead baby mammoth, and a girl that Johnny, a 27-year-old virgin, just might like to have sex with. Unfortunately, Johnny’s lonely but oddly sweet and more than a little magical world collides viciously with Kitch’s when the younger brother invites Johnny and his girlfriend-to-be to Denver for a game and afterparty. The trouble starts there and leads to a bizarre finale in that cave with the woman and the probably dead mammoth. By the end, the probably dead head count has grown, and, well, pink eye is the least of Johnny’s problems. Like Hill’s superb debut, East of Denver (2014), this one isn’t really a crime novel, but it surely is a damn fine, if distinctly peculiar, country noir.

“A crazy novel. And I mean that in the very best sense.”
—Mike Keefe, editorial cartoonist, 2011 Pulitzer winner

 “Filled with the same easy energy and bright style that earned praise and awards for East of Denver, The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles will take you places you didn't know existed—both on the hard plains of eastern Colorado and deep inside the soul of an unforgettable man who knows the world is a mean place. He knows the perfect song and the perfect drink to get him through the day, but even Johnny Riles can’t predict what the world, or his brother, might throw his way. After a sip or two of this richly told novel, you’ll want to glug the whole thing down.”
—Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil series

 The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles renders Eastern Colorado/High Plains life as it really has always been: down-to-earth, matter-of-fact, and always on the brink of psychedelia. This is an unapologetic triumph of contemporary Rural American Realism.”
—Zach Boddicker, songwriter, 4H Royalty

 Praise for East of Denver (Dutton, 2012)

 “[An] agreeable, offbeat debut novel...A story about a father and son who bond against the odds, with an ending as quirkily satisfying as the rest of the book.”
Kirkus

 “An eye for detail, an ear for dialogue, and a knack for story-telling distinguish this unflinching novel of rural America.” —Publishers Weekly

 “Hill gives up plenty of laughs to go with the pain...a fine first novel from a writer with a great sense of character.” —Booklist

 “A breezily readable summer novel that not only entertains but also surprises. It explores the dynamics of family relationships without ever stooping to sentimentality, and it’s one of this summer’s most pleasant surprises.”
Austin American-Statesman

 “East of Denver is a slow burn, but by the end it’s burning hot: you’ll leave this book a little charred… This is writing on a par with that of top-flight black-comic novelists like Sam Lipsyte and Jess Walter, and it deserves to be read.”
—Lev Grossman

 “A witty, snarky, and thoroughly enjoyable read.” —Portland Book Review

 “East of Denver” is painstakingly funny—the novel offers a deep, dark look into the real life issues that make society uncomfortable.”
—Kacy Muir, The Weekender

 “Gregory Hill...displays a keen, at times riveting, understanding of the absurdities and freedoms of small-town isolation and the dying way of life that was once the American standard.” —Shelf Awareness

 “Dark humor, zany characters, and a sharp eye for detail distinguish this arch novel set in Colorado’s dying farmland…. Charming details of rural life are offset by a madcap plot and tragicomic details of dementia, even as father and son share high jinks and man-hugs on their inexorable journey to face the music.”
—Marysue Rucci

About the Author

Gregory Hill lives, writes, and makes odd music on the Colorado High Plains. A former book buyer for the University of Denver library, he now records music and writes full time. Greg was the 2012 Boulder County Artist in Residence, and his previous novel, East of Denver (Dutton, 2012), won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction. The New York Times/i> named the cover of the paperback edition among the “Best Book Covers of 2013.”

The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles • Gregory Hill

294 pages ISBN: 978-1-935248-67-5 Trade paperback, $16.95
June 20, 2015

Published by Leapfrog Press LLC • www.leapfrogpress.com

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution
www.cbsd.com

Lonesome Trials Cover 

June 2015

Listen to the author read the opening of the book. 

 

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