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Beauregard Montage knows how to fix any car—but that would be selling him short. He knows how to make an ordinary American car something that flies, something that, under his hands on the wheel, can take its driver places. He came to that knowledge through heritage, love and the lure of dangerous getaways. But he is in a town that has no call for those skills.
He’s got a repair shop that is floundering, a wife and two sons, a daughter from an earlier time, and the car he inherited from his father, a Plymouth Duster. Late at night, when he races the car ten miles out from the fairgrounds in the back road illegal races, he feels most like himself. He feels reconnected to the part of him that has no part in this other life he knows he needs to live for the people he loves. It’s always there though, just below the surface, that desire for one more getaway drive, one more adrenaline boosting race against the cops.
BLACKTOP WASTELAND (Flatiron Books/July 14, 2020/$26.99) is about a diamond heist schemed up by an uneasy alliance of poor men and women. Black and white, they live in the Virginia Tidewater region in a town where the desire to be more, have more, leave and live large haunts. With breakneck twists, heartbreaking intents and the missteps of its indelible characters, S. A. Cosby weaves a story about black male identity, about what it means to be from the South and have its history not include your story, and about the pull of family and its confusing messages about love and inheritance.
Cosby was raised in the South, Virginia primarily, and he knows a good muscle car when he sees it. He first wrote about Beauregard in a short story, “Slant-Six,” which was selected as a distinguished story for Best American Mystery Stories 2016. He was drawn back to the character of the getaway driver who knows he has to give up the life he loves before he finds himself behind bars. Encapsulated in his story was the larger story Cosby wanted to tell.
Sentence by sentence Cosby pulls you viscerally into the world he’s drawn: you can hear the whippoorwills when the engines are cut. His characters are richly drawn, their dialogue sharp, familiar and cadenced with a humor that bites. Beauregard’s life is a place of bills that are overdue, of kids whose lives you hope will be better so you sacrifice. It’s a life where one big reach can burn the whole place down. This is next generation noir, far from Hollywood’s sheen, but as close to the spirit of noir in all its dreams and ruins.
This #ownvoices release has been praised by a wide swath of the best writers working in the field today (see attached for all that they say)—Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Jennifer Hillier, Rob Hart, Kellye Garrett, Steve Cavanagh, Alex Segura and more. S.A. Cosby’s BLACKTOP WASTELAND is a ride through America’s forgotten South and a stunning literary achievement.
Shawn A. Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia, now residing in Gloucester, Virginia. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. His short story "The Grass Beneath My Feet" won the Anthony award for best short story in 2019. He is also the author of My Darkest Prayer and Brotherhood of the Blade. His writing is influenced by his experience as a bouncer, construction worker, retail manager and for six hours a mascot for a major fast food chain inside the world's hottest costume. When he isn't crafting tales of murder and mayhem he assists the dedicated staff at J.K. Redmond Funeral home as a mortician's assistant. He is an avid hiker and is also known as one hell of a chess player.