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The Evangelist, poems
(Mercer University Press
forthcoming October 4, 2022)
Acclaimed novelist and memoirist David Armand's first full-length collection of poetry, The Evangelist, contains poems that are at once deceptively simple, clear, and colloquial, yet dense with meaning and universal significance. Drawing upon everyday incidents, Armand fashions poems of great lyrical beauty and potent symbolism that remind his readers of the importance of memory and of a shared language. But these poems are also a series of emotional meditations on fatherhood, growing up poor, and the legacies we leave behind for our families. Deftly using his own experiences, then casting them out into the world so that they become a part of the universal exploration of life and all its intricacies, Armand paints an honest and devastating portrait of what it means to be a father, a husband, and a son. The collection concludes with a series of poetic responses to some of the folk art and traditions of his native South, where he reimagines the remarkable photography of Birney Imes, as well as providing lamentations on the humble beginnings and tragic life of Elvis Presley, a poet and an evangelist in his own right.
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The Pugilist's Wife, a novel
(Texas Review Press, 2011)
Winner of the 2010 George Garrett Fiction Prize
The Pugilist's Wife tells the story of Magdalene Tucker, a jilted woman who takes in a drifter during one of Sun, Louisiana's worst recorded droughts. When the townspeople find out about this, they decide to lead a sort of crusade to Magdalene's farm in order to put an end to Magdalene's and this man's sins, thinking them the sole cause of the town's plight. But no one can predict that this convergence upon Magdalene's land will turn violent, resulting in a brutal and bloody climax, where chance and coincidence take a back seat to love, honor, revenge, and pride.
"The storyline is compelling [...] and the characters ring true. Armand's writing is concise but also lyric at times and well-suited to the tenor of his tale." -The Baton Rouge Advocate
Listed by The Times-Picayune alongside Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson (Gilead) as one of five "hot read[s]" in March 2012.
"The writing is first-rate [....] This [is a] fine, fine novel. It is clear that an outstanding new voice has entered the Southern literary pantheon." -Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena
"The Pugilist's Wife is a powerful Southern brew of violence and religion. The writing is intense, fast-paced, linguistically rich, well-crafted and ultimately riveting." -Tim Gautreaux, author of The Missing
"David Armand's beautiful, unflinching debut novel is a masterfully spun yarn of tragedy, sin, and redemption that builds to a truly unforgettable climax. The Pugilist's Wife is a remarkable achievement, as well as the announcement of a standout new voice." -Skip Horack, author of The Eden Hunter
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My Mother's House, a memoir
(Texas Review Press, 2016)
Sole Runner-up in the 2015 William Faulkner Competition
Set in the bucolic, yet brutal South of his youth, My Mother's House is a memoir by novelist David Armand. It recounts the young author's early memories of being born to a schizophrenic mother, then given up for adoption, only to be raised in a home with an alcoholic and abusive step-father. In this sharply-remembered portrait of the people and places that shaped him, Armand paints his seemingly negative experiences with a sympathetic and understanding brush. As the reader follows Armand through his childhood and later into adult life--when he is reunited with his mother after she makes a failed suicide attempt--a surprisingly new world of hope and possibility is rendered, despite the overwhelming challenges of this reunion.
"This is a difficult story, well told. My Mother's House is a tale of survival told by the son given up for adoption only to be brought into a family riddled with abuse; it is also the tale of reuniting with his birth mother, only to be introduced into even more difficulties. But within the morass of psychological maladies that breed, oftentimes generationally, further layers of trouble and sorrow, there is hope, and this story of a son's trek through his life in search of the meaning of family is a beautiful one." --Bret Lott, author of Oprah's Book Club Selection Jewel
"A gut-wrenching personal narrative of family love and loss, My Mother's House is the compelling story of Armand's relationship with his mother and also a penetrating critique of the American mental health system. I recommend it to anyone interested in learning what it's like to lose someone you love to mental illness. Armand's memoir, dramatic and fast-paced, has all the hallmarks of a fine work of fiction. I couldn't put it down, and was sorry when it ended." --Sheryl St. Germain, author of Navigating Disaster
"Armand’s self-awareness is prevalent throughout the book and is particularly impressive in the memories of his childhood. [...] He is able to construct a memoir that has the fine-tuned descriptions found in successful novels without losing the warming and mesmerizing perspective that is characteristic of story-tellers. [...] Armand’s memoir [also] provides a clear call to arms for everyone to stand up for mental health awareness, education, and reform." --Psych Central
"One can’t help but be inspired by the author’s sense of hope and resiliency, which shines like a beacon through each dark, yet lovely page." --The Baton Rouge Advocate
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(Blue Horse Press, 2018)
The twenty poems in David Armand’s latest collection, Debt, are a series of emotional meditations on fatherhood, growing up poor, and the legacies we leave behind for our families. Deftly using his own experiences, then casting them out into the world so that they become a part of the universal exploration of life and all of its intricacies, Armand paints an honest and devastating portrait of what it means to be a father, a husband, and a son.
“The poems in Debt immerse the reader in the narrator’s reckonings with what was given, and what was taken, by his father—a man who borrows his son’s money for beer, challenges him to fist fights, tends a garden that yields more than they can eat, and mends broken things as best he can. In language that captures the rhythms of everyday speech,
and line breaks that evoke both the dissonances and harmonies of memory, Armand reveals the difficult beauty in a cigarette flicked in anger, a ‘wilting tree doused with lights,’ and ‘stars like buckshot across the sky,’ images that flicker with promise and sorrow. Debt is suffused with gratitude, understanding, empathy, and loss, a celebration of the ‘pain exchanged and passed along…when someone says “I love you”.’”—Robert Lee Kendrick,
author of What Once Burst With Brilliance and Winter Skin
The Deep Woods, poems
(Blue Horse Press, 2015)
Acclaimed novelist David Armand's first collection of poetry, The Deep Woods, contains fifteen poems that are at once deceptively simple, clear and colloquial, yet dense with meaning and universal significance. Drawing upon everyday incidents, Armand fashions poems of great lyrical beauty and potent symbolism that remind his readers of the importance of memory and of a shared language.
"David Armand's The Deep Woods is a beautiful collection. In poem after poem, Armand recognizes the importance of the familial, the personal, and the ways in which memory lingers and creates new realities. The clarity of these poems--their unimpeded voice--reveal Armand's greatest strength: to tell stories and to tell them well. As in his fine novels, the poems in The Deep Woods resonate with aural lushness, but the sound never overwhelms the senses. Indeed, one gets the impression that a friend is present, recounting memories--a masterful raconteur whose poetic voice emanates with authenticity and even kindness. The Deep Woods proves that Armand's giftedness spans across genres: he is an excellent poet, one whose voice will sustain." --William Wright, Series Editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, Author of Night Field Anecdote and Tree Heresies
"Good poems bring us home with them for a spell. They build trust over time and share their experiences with us bit by bit. Great poems, though, feel like home from their first line on. David Armand's The Deep Woods is full of great poems. It's a book of fathers, and of sons, and of a world so real you can smell piney woods and see steam rising off a newborn foal. The joys, and pains, of these poems are at once familial and universal, individual and metonymic. There's not much more you could ask a poem to do, not much more a poet could deliver, than what Armand gives us here."--Jack B. Bedell, author of Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems
The Lord's Acre, a novel
(Texas Review Press, 2020)
The Lord's Acre tells the story of twelve-year old Eli Woodbine, a young boy who watches helplessly as both of his parents give in to their increasing sense of desperation and paranoia, living in a world where they can no longer see any hope or reason for existing. This ultimately leads them to a local, charismatic church leader, in whom they quickly place all of their faith. After helping him build a secret compound in the woods—a theater to staged faith healings, passionate sermons, and dark confessions of violence—the man known to them only as "Father" mysteriously disappears, leaving everything behind him in ruin. As Eli and his parents attempt to pick up the pieces and find answers to their new predicament, it is only then—when they are at their absolute lowest—that they finally seem to discover the hope they've always been so desperate to find.
"[A] realistic and hard biting portrait of an adolescent boy who simply wants to survive [...] [The] point of view is so intimate, so realistic that the reader will hope throughout the story that he will somehow turn out fine. That very hope, a gift to a boy who has no other reason to believe that life will ever be any better, is what makes Armand’s novel such a compelling read." --Southern Review of Books
“Here’s what David Armand can do: he can tell you a story filled with poetry and heartbreak and courage, all the while creating a Southern landscape that wraps and holds its people like a loving arm of Mother Nature.”
—Michael Farris Smith, author of Blackwood
"This story of a charismatic preacher and his flock is so perfectly described that I felt like I was in the pews and on the compound, watching a man who initially seemed like a saint transform into something far less angelic."
—Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month
"[A]n incredibly powerful novel."
"The Lord’s Acre must be written by a poet. And as a poet myself, I mean this as the highest praise. Every sentence was masterfully crafted, filled with vivid imagery, and steeped with emotion and meaning. It’s simply gorgeous. We follow the life of Eli and his parents through some difficult patches—homelessness, a troubled marriage, a questioning of faith—and just when things can’t seem to get any worse, they meet a man who could be their savior, a charismatic preacher and healer known only as Father. Set in the landscape of rural Louisiana, this book was one I couldn’t put down for both its art and its story."
—Katherine Hoerth, author of Goddess Wears Cowboy
“Precise and vibrant prose—offers a heart-wrenching expose of rural poverty and willful ignorance—Eli's coming of age is as tragic as it is arresting—Armand offers a kaleidoscope of local color in a shade never seen before.”
—Adam Nemmers, author of American Modern(ist) Epic
The Gorge, a novel
(Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2015)
Finalist for Foreword Reviews' Independent Book Award
In his latest literary thriller, David Armand weaves together the stories of an eccentric cast of dark, frighteningly realistic characters, each under suspicion of murdering a young girl, Amber Varnado, whose body is found hidden in a deep gorge at the opening of the novel. Set in southeast Louisiana in the small town of Franklinton, The Gorge follows the colliding lives of Tuller, the murdered girl's boyfriend, whose suspicious past and his discovery of Amber's body make him the prime suspect; John Varnado, Amber's father, a Vietnam war veteran whose violent flashbacks cause brutal outbursts of rage and paranoia; Grady, a young man dwarfed by rickets who prowls the night to feed his strange desires; and Euwell, a man who lives in an old shack near the gorge and hunts for young girls to satisfy his lusts and quell his inner-demons. Armand's spellbinding story explores the universal themes of desperate love and the pitfalls of false assumptions woven into the tenuous threads of coincidence that connect people in a small town. Masterful, profound, and full of spirit, The Gorge is literary entertainment of the highest order.
"David Armand is an exceptionally talented young writer that I've had my eye on for a while. His new novel, The Gorge, is a suspenseful tale filled with intrigue and surprises, and he knows his characters inside out, just as he knows the sights, sounds, and smells of the landscape in which their drama is enacted. I really admired this book." --Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances and Safe From the Neighbors
"Though original in plot and conception, The Gorge shows the clear influence of Larry Brown and Cormac McCarthy in Armand's creation of genuinely evolved Rough South characters. Grady Bickels emerges, for example, as an even more grotesque version of Lester Ballard from Child of God. Armand's direct and poetic use of language is quite impressive." --Jean W. Cash, author of Flannery O Connor A Life and Larry Brown: A Writer s Life
"Larry Brown meets Tom Franklin in The Gorge, a haunting story that delivers readers a strong sting of southern grit lit. With just the right balance of dark, edgy, raw, and all things lyrical, David Armand dives deep into the sweat-soaked secrets and sins of rural Louisiana. Get ready to enter into the minds of characters you would never want to know in real life, but probably already do." --Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Feathered Bone
"Armand paints Louisiana with simplicity and darkness, carrying us through wide-open fields, houses that have been abandoned, dirt roads, and mystery. [It's] nostalgic and whimsical without trying hard to be. The storytelling itself is as rugged as its country – meandering and beautiful." --Portland Book Review
"A raw and chilling read." --Newpages
"David Armand is a very talented writer and with The Gorge creates a vivid and memorable world." --Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life
Harlow, a novel
(Texas Review Press, 2013)
Listed as a Top-Five Book by the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Long-listed for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Award
Taking place over the course of three abysmally cold winter days in the late 1980s, Harlow tells the story of eighteen-year-old Leslie Somers, a boy who trudges his way through the dark Louisiana backwoods in search of his father, a man whom he has never met. As Leslie walks through the woods, making camp where he can, he thinks of the other men in his life: the ones who took him hunting and fishing, the ones who mistreated him. He can only hope that his father will be different from them, better somehow. But when Leslie finally finds Harlow, the man is not what the boy had expected. Ultimately, the two will end up on a crash course toward destruction, crime, and twisted relationships that will leave one of them dead and the other a hardly recognizable version of his former self.
"David Armand has done something here rare and wondrous and beautiful. Harlow quite clearly draws from Faulkner, O'Connor, and Cormac McCarthy; this has been noted by other astute observers. But this book is entirely its own, entirely original, as Armand honors his literary inheritance by contributing boldly to the tradition. These pages are thick with violence and blood, with family strife and the slim consolations of love. A boy strives to find his father, searching like all of us for a place of his own. What young Les finds--told in elegant sentences that often read like honeyed poetry--and what he makes of it will stay with me for a long while." -Neil Connelly, author of The Miracle Stealer
"If Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy had a literary child, its name would be David Armand. His novel Harlow combines O'Connor's Gothic violence and sense of humor with McCarthy's unforgiving landscapes and Old Testament themes. But while he pays homage to the icons, David Armand is his own writer, and Harlow stands alone as an incredible look into the oldest of stories: man's search for his father. But rarely are fathers this wayward, sons this compelled to search, and their shared histories this soaked in whiskey, blood, and Louisiana clay." -Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home
"[Armand's] writing is reminiscent of Hemingway: straightforward descriptions of manly action punctuated by laconic dialogue [....] Harlow is a tough little novel that plunges the reader into a fully realized way of life." -New York Journal of Books
"The personal journeys in Harlow are multidimensional yet believable, with an overall economy that keeps [it] engaging to the last word." -ForeWord Reviews
"Armand writes in a comfortingly familiar literary voice that blends Ernest Hemingway’s laconic but rhythmically complicated explorations of the mysteries of masculinity with William Faulkner’s more fabulist, Southern Gothic twang. It’s a heady, seductively intoxicating combination." -Richmond Times-Dispatch
"What separates a book such as Harlow from the myriad southern novels that straddle the line between popular and literary fiction—and indeed, what makes Harlow undoubtedly literary—is the tonal maximalism, the luxuriating in evocative words and long sentences, the obvious love and care for language." -William Wright, Shenandoah
"Set in Louisiana’s backwoods, this dark, tense, well-written coming-of-age novel offers gritty echoes of Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner." -Dallas Morning News