Black Lawrence Press

The Muddy Season

In a text that doubles back on itself, revising and reinventing its own trajectory several times over, The Muddy Season is an excavation into narrative form and political oppression. Set in the steaming jungle of a colonial dystopia somewhere in the developing world, The Muddy Season depicts the struggle of an indigenous village to maintain its freedom and dignity in the face of the repressive policies of a racialized bureaucratic state. The villagers alternately press back and stand by as armed forces arrive to impose their tyrannical will: removing newborn babies from their mothers for indoctrination in the capital. Against the backdrop of poverty and overt political conflict, Matthew Raymond presents us with the complex inner struggle of the government agent tasked with overseeing the removal of the infants. As he carries out his duty on behalf of the state, the agent finds himself caught between bureaucratic obligation and his own burgeoning desires. At once enthralling and unflinching, brutal and impassioned, The Muddy Season is a sophisticated, narratively complex story that is as alluring as it is dark.

FROM THE MUDDY SEASON

They were born in the muddy season and both cried as if they knew their fate or as if they couldn’t bear the trauma of the world now theirs. The afterbirth spilled out a moment later onto the packed mud floor just as the government agent eased open the door and stood there wide-eyed as if it were his first time away from the capital. You wait, the first midwife said sternly, holding her hand up to him. He looked guilty already but tried to maintain an air of authority, framed in the doorway like a painting from some other age, some other world. The State is waiting, he said. But the glaring eyes of the midwife were no match for his and he looked as if he might cry at any moment. Then he composed himself, ignored any upsurge in his heart and stomach, and came in and laid his leather folder on the rough wooden table.

Praise

  • “Pulling her blue and wet from her mother and saying quietly, Life is suffering, the midwife smacked her”—and, thus, the reader finds herself thrust into the damp murk of afterbirth and the muddy season: into an absolutely captivating story that is as unflinching as it is bewitching. Told in four parts, The Muddy Season is a sophisticated, scorching story whose narrative choreography unfurls in an electrifying dance between soldiers and villagers, a girl and an agent. With a literary nod to the great innovative novelists Julio Cortázar and John Fowles, Raymond upends conventional fiction, while maintaining the brutal realism of the world’s bureaucracies and oppressions. Analogous to the two central characters in section IV, in which one character leads and the other trails “into the dark of the jungle beyond,” when this author beckons, I too must follow.

    —Simone Muench, author of Wolf Centos, Trace, and Orange Crush
  • Matthew Raymond’s The Muddy Season is a beguiling and prismatic gem of short fiction, yet bursting with a novel’s share of action, drama, pathos, and idea. In it, Raymond has precision-extracted the best of Cormac McCarthy and Graham Greene and injected the resulting mixture into a universe out of Kafka. Painterly, structurally inventive and darkly moving.

    —Adrian Van Young, author of Shadows in Summerland and The Man Who Noticed Everything

Matthew Raymond

Matthew Raymond teaches English in California. His stories have appeared in Oyster Boy Review and Euphony. His poems have appeared in ParcelBeloit Poetry JournalPermafrostGrasslands, and Sulphur River Literary Review. His chapbook, The Muddy Season, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in fall 2016.

Raymond Author page

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