The Marble Orchard

Trade Paper
  • 252 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.25 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1935439998
  • 2014-02-11


“Taylor’s understanding of place, ‘ancient beyond all measure and remote beyond all reckoning,’ and the hard people who ‘walk around with the dark all their lives until they are the dark’ echoes the cultural dissections of Daniel Woodrell and James Lee Burke. A brilliant debut.”—Kirkus

“Taylor’s plot is relentless and the reader is not released from its throes until the very end—not neatly, but with a lingering air of sadness and inevitably that is difficult to shake off. This is a stunning debut novel.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“There are not many writers capable of writing prose so rhythmic, so driving, that it bears the reader into a novel with power of its own. Alex Taylor is one of those writers. Combine the richness of his prose with a plot involving an accidental killing, dark family secrets and backwoods flight from a bad, bad man and you’ve got a deeply compelling, headlong rush of a page turner. The Marble Orchard is a novel readers will be hard pressed to put down.” —Michael Knight, author of The Typist and Goodnight, Nobody

“Sure to satisfy readers of both crime and literary fiction, Alex Taylor‘s dark and suspenseful novel about violent criminals in the backwoods of Kentucky and a long kept familial secret, The Marble Orchard, is also filled with some of the most beautiful and startling prose I have ever read. It is an amazing achievement.”—Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time

Alex Taylor has conjured a particular brand of haunting, a roaring and sinister tale of a man’s attempt to stay alive. Beam Sheetmire has done what can’t be undone, and we follow him through a wrecked and wretched land––its trees and hills and and people and places named with a raw and fiery precision––toward a ramshackle salvation.”—Glenn Taylor, author of The Ballad of Trencmouth Taggart

An engrossing and tragic literary thriller that evokes the sinister realism of Cormac McCarthy and the inescapable family bonds of Daniel Woodrell, The Marble Orchard tells the story of Beam, the black sheep of the Sheetmire family, a large and entrenched rural Kentucky clan. Beam finds himself on the run after killing a man who was trying to rob him, a man who turns out to be the son of Loat Duncan, a powerful local businessman and cold-blooded killer.

With Loat—who is hiding a devastating secret about Beam’s past—and Elvis, the local sheriff, hot on his trail, Beam leads a nomadic existence as he descends deeper into his own heart of darkness, slipping from one place to the next, each more mysterious than the last. The people he meets during his journey—an enigmatic trucker dressed in a suit, a cemetery-dwelling Good Samaritan, an armless brothel owner—are pieces of a puzzle that hold the key to Beam’s past, as well as his possible future salvation.

Alex Taylor holds an MFA from the University of Mississippi and has taught creative writing at Western Kentucky University and McNeese State University. His debut collection, The Name of the Nearest River, was published to great critical acclaim in 2010. Taylor has received the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, the Barry Hannah Prize for Fiction, and the Eric Hoffer Award in General Fiction. His stories have appeared in the Oxford American, Black Warrior Review, Carolina Quarterly, American Short Fiction, the Greensboro Review, and elsewhere. He hails from Rosine, Kentucky.