Devil House: John Darnielle Releases his 3rd Novel
Browsing through the latest issue of Bookpage (issued monthly and available to our patrons) I came across a couple new releases that really got me jazzed. One of which is the new novel from The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle. I’ve placed my copy on hold through the catalog, but until my turn arrives I’ve decided to take a look back on Darnielle’s previous two novels and hopefully introduce some new fans to his writing and music.
John Darnielle may be best known as a singer-songwriter. His band, The Mountain
Goats began in the early 90’s by releasing a steady flow of lo-fi recordings and continues to record and tour today. If you’re familiar with his music it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Darnielle is also an author. The Mountain Goats have always been a very literary group with Darnielle’s lyrics masterfully holding listeners' attention with captivating character and emotion. Often dealing with trauma, alienation, drug abuse, and heartbreak: his poetic and narrative craft are a defining feature of the music. You can listen to the fantastic track “This Year” here, on Caldwell Public Library’s very own music streaming service Freegal.
Darnielle’s first novel, Wolf in White Van was published in 2014. The novel tells the story of reclusive game designer, Sean Phillips. Disfigured as a teen, Sean sells his games through the mail until a strange incident involving his game Trace Italian opens old wounds and brings Sean face to face with his own trauma. The plot unfolds non-chronologically, slowly building to reveal the circumstances surrounding Sean’s disfigurement and how games allow him a space in which to cope.
A small town video clerk in late 90’s Iowa finds himself involved in a disturbing mystery when a customer complains that someone has recorded something onto a rented tape. Universal Harvester follows the young Jeremy as he attempts to find place and meaning in his small community while investigating a series of disturbing scenes that have been finding their way onto tapes in his store. Jeremy’s efforts soon turn the placid and quiet town into something haunting and surreal. For fans of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
Gage Chandler finally gets his big break as a true crime writer when offered the chance to move into what the locals call “The Devil House.” As Gage researches the notorious murders that occurred there the story soon leads him in unexpected directions and deep into his own past. Devil House was released this January and I’m anxiously awaiting for my copy to come through. Darnielle’s style is unique, lyrical, and downright weird. I’m interested to see how his craft has progressed with this novel and hope to see more from him in the future.