Knuckle Bear

by Tim Peeler

Knuckle Bear is both enlivened and burdened by a fractured language, inherited from the settlers who first came to the North Carolina mountains from the hills and valleys of Scotland and Ulster to claim this wild land. It is a language that is broken and crippled, violent and near violent, innocent and depraved, and loving and brutal as these characters. As author of The Iguana Tree, Michel Stone notes, “If Tim Peeler were a novelist he’d have written Deliverance, only even somehow more Deliverance than the Deliverance Dickey wrote. I couldn't stop reading. Like when you pass a horrific train wreck and instead of turning away you hit the brakes, got to keep looking to see how bad this all ends up for those unfortunate people. There is no way it is going to be remotely okay. And yet, farther in, I am feeling sympathy and EMPATHY for the whole lot of them, and then the ending after all this hard, dark, strange stuff was so sweet and good I could almost cry.”