I would love to know what first crossed your mind when you discovered Shirtless Men Drink Free—whether you cringed or gestured inside yourself in that way that reflects the power of a curio or any shiny thing or pornography. I would love to know if you were threatened by the book’s title, the cover photograph, the man within the color red. I would love to know what you know about threats in general, why you vote the way you do, whether you vote at all (and if not, why not), whether you believe in redemption, whether you truly believe the soul outlives the body. Reader, do you think Keats was correct in calling life a valley of “soul-making?” Reader, do you hold out hope for the South? Better yet, any hope for all these troubling valleys of soul-making?
Reader, I do not apologize for alarming you. There was a light at my back, just as there still is yours. I can see it. It’s proof that we are here, that you matter far more than the questions. Jane knows. She opens the book. Jane calls the soul a big deal. She drinks gin and regrets her choices. She is a daughter of the South, of the losers, of the tribe trying to forget Trump and yet remember the grand houses that outlived slavery.
Reader, do you regard Lolita pornographic? Are you glad such issues don’t much matter in Georgia these days, that the right man will win and this time the choice is nothing like the decision that gave us Barabbas and a shirtless man strung up between two others?
Reader, does talk of religion irk you? Are you praying for Southerners? Would you take off your shirt just to drink free? Wine or the hard stuff? Water? Will you tell me why you always thought Jackson Beekman would make a great governor of Georgia? Why the wealthiest woman in Atlanta is known as much for her skin’s dark color as her beautiful money?
They say the meek will inherit the earth. They say it all comes down to the homosexual agenda, the non-believers, the wrong choice at the calling. Reader, isn’t the light always calling?
Reader, I value your thoughts on why the light can feel so soft on a weary back, why the body leaves a shadow thanks as much to the light as the body that stops it, why a human being might sometimes forget what it could do if ravenously thirsty. Reader, I’m delighted to sit beside you as the world thumbs our pages and critiques our choices. I’m from Mississippi, and you? Are you thirsty?
You can reach me at the Internet website below. Lots of poor people live there. Many wanted to be wealthy. Some, the cursed, were. Many can’t help but live out their lives among the shirtless. Some can still become governors, even of Georgia.
Very best wishes for hearty drinking, for hanging a moment between the souls and their bodies.
SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE
About the book:
In Shirtless Men Drink Free, Doctor Jane Beekman has seen her dying mother’s soul, a vision above the bed—a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave. The question that lingers—why?—prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities. In this election year, Jane must do what her mother, an aspiring social activist, would have done. Soon, Jane is embroiled in the world of Georgia politics, working to make sure her dynamic younger brother-in-law Jackson Beekman is selected the next governor, regardless of what the soul of the candidate’s dead father or that of his living brother—Jane’s husband—might want done.
Indeed, it is a mother’s persistence and a father’s legacy that will ultimately turn one Beekman brother against the other, launching a struggle with moral consequences that may extend far beyond Georgia. Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears—immigrants and job take-overs, terrorists in waiting, homosexuals and outsider agendas—Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why?
Engaging, beautifully written and resplendent with realism, Shirtless Men Drink Free is a standout debut destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned. A meticulously crafted tale that showcases an outstanding new voice in Southern fiction, Shirtless Men Drink Free has garnered high advance praise:
“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence."—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship
“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you. Change you even.” —Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree
“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells. Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo
Published by Tupelo Press joint venture partner Leapfolio, Shirtless Men Drink Free will be published in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-946507-04-4, 326 pages, $16.95) and eBook editions. The novel will be available where fine books are sold, with an arrival on January 22, 2019.
SHIRTLESS MEN DRINK FREE is also available for pre-order on Amazon or at Tupelo Press: