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The Natural Order of Things

October 23, 2012 by · 6 comments

Kevin P. Keating

The Natural Order of Things

The Natural Order of Things, comprised of 15 interconnected stories, is properly thought of as a novel in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio or John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven―but with a gothic sensibility.

The novel concerns the adventures and exploits of a small group of students, teachers, employees, and priests at a Jesuit prep school in a dying industrial city.

Its stories harbor star quarterbacks who sabotage important games, the head coach with a gambling addiction wagering on his own team, an elderly priest suffering from acute memory loss who dabbles in heretical beliefs, and others who swim against the tides of society’s proscribed roles.

“The Black Death of Gentile da Foligno” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by author Thomas E. Kennedy. Another story, “Uncreated Creatures,” was nominated for a StorySouth Million Writers Award by the editor of The Stickman Review. A third story, “The Spy” won second prize for the Lorain County/Ohio Arts Council Award, judged by Nancy Zafris, editor of The Kenyon Review.

Kevin P. Keating‘s fiction and essays have appeared in a number of publications, including The Mad Hatter’s Review, The Avatar Review, The Spillway Review, The North Coast Review, The Fifth Street Review, The Midwest Literary Review, The Bicycle Review, Juked, Perigee, Exquisite Corpse, Inertia, Identity Theory, and many others.

TITLE: The Natural Order of Things
AUTHOR: Kevin P. Keating
ISBN: 978-0-9883837-1-5
GENRE: Novel/Collection
PUBLISHER: Aqueous Books
PAGES: 400
PRICE: $14
BINDING: Perfect/ trade paperback
EDITION: 1st print
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 30, 2012

Keating toys with narrative chronology in this debut collection of interwoven stories that follows the lives of several “reprobates who have descended into… Hades.” At the center of an unnamed, ruined city of American industry thrives, tumorlike, a Jesuit high school and the Zanzibar Towers and Gardens, a flophouse where both students and alums slum it with prostitutes.

In the opening story, “Vigil,” students have gathered at the Zanzibar to celebrate Halloween and the next day’s big football game with kegs of beer they stole from a senile priest in the final story, “Gehenna,” that was delivered in the second story, “Box,” by the father of star quarterback Frank “the Minotaur” McSweeney.

“I’m counting on you. We all are,” says the Minotaur’s father, but the day of the big game, as in all the connected stories, we find out just how big a letdown everyone in this life can be.

Story by story, the collection circumnavigates suffering—someone lights the homeless on fire at night; a merchant marine boxes up a man to ship him overseas; priests humiliate and shame their students, while one teacher loves them too much—in a place where most of its inhabitants “would rather gamble on a human life than try to save one.” — Publishers Weekly

The Natural Order of Things is a work of gritty realism, populated with a cast of dark, flawed characters; Keating leads the reader through a labyrinth of stories with intelligent prose that unsettles. —Martin Rose, author and reviewer for Shroud Magazine

Reading The Natural Order of Things is like holding a tattered masterpiece in your hands— individually the pieces are their own small works of art but the true brilliance isn’t realized until you fit them together. — J.W. Schnarr, award-winning journalist and author of Alice & Dorothy

Here is Kevin Keating, rallying against that tired old complaint, ‘Where are the new American voices?’ He writes with verve, knowing, and wit−an explorer of the thin but deep fissure between privileged Jesuit school boys and the scrape-by world that surrounds it, lousy with hookers, drugs, and violence.

In this carnival, set in rusted and wrenched Cleveland, William de Vere is the kind of kid who’d slip Holden Caulfield a mickey and pimp him out in a sleazy motel, all while sporting his freshly creased school uniform.

Here, then, a teen’s wild exploration of the places and people−even in our advanced years−that we wish we had the courage even to begin. And now we can. Thanks to Kevin Keating’s vision. —Michael Garriga, author of The Book of Duels

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