I came to know of Kyle Minor’s work because:
- the title of his first collection, In the Devil’s Territory, is also the name of a Sufjan Stevens song, but
- Stevens and Minor both took the phrase from a reworking of Flannery O’Connor’s observation about her own work, and
- Stevens has more than one song named after stories on Ben Taylor’s New School MFA syllabus, and
- Ben Taylor had Sufjan as a student a few years before I learned everything I know about Flannery O’Connor (and Alice Munro) in that that same seminar. So.
Even if I’d never stumbled upon Minor’s work before the recent release of his new collection, Praying Drunk, I would absolutely know about him now. He is everywhere, and Praying Drunk is lighting everything on fire. It has been a joy, and whatever the opposite of schadenfreude is, to watch this career develop over the past few years and come into this season of more widespread acclamation.
Today, Mr. Minor has a great piece up at The Atlantic about Alice Munro. Part of the By Heart series, which puts Kyle in the company of Serman Alexie and Jonathan Franzen, his essay is introduced by an Atlantic editor with high praise for Praying Drunk. Kyle, to say your hard-won recognition is encouraging to me as a writer would be a gross understatement. Keeping with the theme, it’s sobering in the way that sobriety is, for those who have worked long and hard for it, a true thing of celebration.