Alumni News

'Nitro Mountain' Praised in New York Times

Lee Clay Johnson '07 is the author of Nitro Mountain, which was published this spring by Knopf. It has been favorably reviewed by several literary journals including Kirkus and Electric Literature and most recently, by the New York Times. 

Nitro Mountain by Lee Clay Johnson

On August 5th, Nitro Mountain was included in the New York Times'  article on "Southern Fiction." Johnson is one of four authors whose works are featured in the piece. 

The New York Times review highlights a few of the novel's many strengths: "In spare prose Johnson portrays an Appalachian community ravaged for resources and forsaken by history." Quoting portions of the author's own words, the review continues:  "Everyone [in the story] is as fractured as the landscape, where growing up [as Johnson wrote:] 'means learning to beat a woman. Trying to kill a man. Posting up at a worn-out palace with a loaded gun and waiting to deal with the consequences of what you’ve done.'"

Despite the novel's dark themes, there are still moments which are startlingly funny: "Appalachian nihilism this may be, but it’s not without humor." 

The New York Times review is the most recent in series of positive responses to the novel. The Kirkus Review called it: "Appalachian noir at its darkest and most deranged" and awarded it a Kirkus star. And, as one reviewer put it:

Lee Clay Johnson explodes onto the scene with Nitro Mountain