Landon Houle’s writing has won contests at Black Warrior Review, Crab Creek Review, Dogwood, and Permafrost. Other work has appeared in Baltimore Review, Crazyhorse, Natural Bridge, Harpur Palate, River Styx, The New Guard, and elsewhere. Landon was born in Brown County, Texas, and currently lives in Darlington, South Carolina. She is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Francis Marion University, and she is the fiction editor at Raleigh Review.
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
A kaleidoscopic portrait of a rural Southern town where tragedy is met with candles, hymns, and the urge to leave and never look back.
Black Creek, South Carolina: a small town in the swamps that convinces itself that nothing bad has ever happened and nothing bad ever will. Black Creek is the sort of place where young girls roam the streets free to imagine who they are and who they’ll become. Where women sell pies and plants at the courthouse square. Where the fire department rescues cats from the tops of electric poles. And what trouble there is, they’ll tell you, stays past the town limits, in the run-down house-turned-strip-club and Lake Darpo, where certain birds are going extinct. These eleven closely related portraits show that the real threats have long taken root. Black Creek is a place of poignancy and absurdity, love and loss, loneliness and the brief charges of connection. Its residents will do almost anything to protect what they think is theirs.
“I love the way that Landon Houle writes. She is a stunning painter of unforgettable images, and she creates characters that I can swear I’ve met before, that I’ve known my whole life. Living Things is just that—totally alive and as real as your own memories. This is a writer to watch.”—Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will
“The unforgettable characters in Living Things are trying their best, against the odds, to make their own good in a so-called nowhere town in rural South Carolina. With great empathy and the voice of a poet, Landon Houle puts this town and the lives lived there on the map. She has pointed her pen at a forgotten America and said: These people matter. Here are their stories.”—Nicholas Montemarano, author of The Senator’s Children