September 2015 (  Lookout Books )

September 2015 (Lookout Books)

“Lyrical, quietly powerful debut novel. . . . Against a backdrop of labor unrest and the growing destruction of the old-growth forest, Null weaves a morality play of many threads: who will betray whom and at what price? The writing is exact and assured, the story complex and rewarding. Fans of John Sayles’s film Matewan will find this a kindred work and just as good.”
, One of Nine Books You Shouldn’t Overlook

“Null’s compelling debut novel delivers a stark assessment of the logging of virgin timber and the unfortunate legacies of the Gilded Age . . . [his] striking, lyrical language is an engrossing delight.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution
’s Best Southern Books to Read this Fall

“Beautifully written in fresh, lyrical prose, Honey from the Lion brilliantly creates a land and a people experiencing tremendous change. Null successfully and engagingly presents the consequences of this change for both humans and the environment, leaving readers feeling like witnesses to it all.”

“Award-winning short story author Null writes with an eye for the geography, players, and violent push of the Gilded Age profit engines. . . . A debut of note for fans of historical fiction, labor, or environmental issues, and Appalachian settings; read-alike authors include Denis Johnson and E.L. Doctorow.”
Library Journal, Summer Best Debuts

“A masterful effort, an evocation of a vanished time and place.”
Wilmington Star-News

“A thriller, a sweeping epic, and historical fiction at its best.”
Charleston Gazette Mail

A fluid narrator, inhabiting each character in turn, unifies and foreshadows the events, sawing backward and forward in time, holding back just enough to maintain the suspense. Mistaken identities, espionage, double-crosses, police corruption, gilded-era fat cats scheming from afar, hatchet men penetrating the union ranks like ninjas—it’s all here in a tightly plotted story that often reads like a thriller.
Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal Constitution

“The novel moves with the assured pace of a thriller, while sentence by sentence Null plays with the language of place, of longing, and of violence. Within the book are echoes of Edward P. Jones’ The Known World in its scope and generous spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity. The encompassing omniscient narration and deliberate, masterful plotting brings to mind Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus. Frankly no first novel has the right to be this good—and yet, Null succeeds. He announces himself as a fully formed novelist. . . . In the face of misery, of a cruel system built upon the broken backs of the men it is profiting from, Honey from the Lion is essentially a love song to the Alleghenies. Both the novel and the author love the flora and fauna, the poetry of the voices, the faces and bodies of the people, but especially the mountains themselves, looming overhead.”
The Masters Review, Fall Reading List

Honey from the Lion is a passionate tribute to a landscape sacrificed in the American lust for conquest of the wilderness, and to the lives that were lost or ruined along the way. It also marks the arrival of a novelist with both artistic daring and the ability to tell a great story.
Chapter 16

“Matt’s characters are the men and women who live close to the bone—the sawyers, peddlers, and laborers whose muscle and spirit both built the state and irrevocably transformed it. And his language, though image-rich and arresting on its own, doesn’t shy away from describing the misery and magic of the setting in equal measure.”
Morgantown Magazine

“At least on the surface, Matthew Neill Null’s debut novel bears some resemblance to my favorite historical novels: Serena by Ron Rash, The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux, and Lost Nation by Jeffrey Lent. . . . Judging by the opening pages, I might get so deep into this book, I should carry a bag of breadcrumbs to mark my path so I can find my way back out.”
David Abrams, July Front Porch Books on The Quivering Pen

“In one of the most assured debuts of the year, Matthew Neill Null tells the story of an American tragedy that began when Union soldiers from wealthy Eastern families first saw West Virginia’s thousands of acres of nearly impenetrable virgin forest. Honey from the Lion brings to mind the literature-as-history triumphs of E. L. Doctorow and Denis Johnson, yet Null is specific unto himself. His compressed, lyrical prose penetrates every darkness and wheels through time like a soaring bird.”
Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Quiet Dell and Lark and Termite

“Rich in history, speech, incident, flora, fauna, vernacular, geology, politics—Matthew Neill Null’s work is dazzling. It’s hard to believe this is fiction and not the firsthand account of the spirit of a place and time long past. He seems to know every shrub and burrow, how it formed, who owned it from the first European settlement and before. If anything ever happened in the state of West Virginia, Null knows the long and short of it, and will make its story sing.”
Salvatore Scibona, author of The End

“Beautiful prose, vivid characterization, and meticulous research make Honey from the Lion an exceptional debut. Matthew Neill Null is a gifted and serious writer we need to pay attention to.”
Ron Rash, author of Serena

“Eclectic and fearless in his mix of old and new; guttural and lyrical by turns, or often both at the same time; brilliant at conjuring voices of every stripe and type, ethnic provenance, social class, and gender, in a West Virginia boomtown 125 years ago; knowing in many domains—in fact a dazzling polymath with the lexicons of geology, hunting, popular religion, immigrant history, and frontier economics at his disposal—Matthew Neill Null is bound to become one of the most admired and influential fiction writers of his generation. He is the only writer I know—besides Edward P. Jones in The Known World—who has the chops to represent the American past in a way that is richly credible for its period and yet stylistically daring.”
Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule

“The timber boom of the early twentieth century logged out the great virgin spruce forests of West Virginia. The devastation was complete. No tree escaped the saw. From mountaintops the once green land looked like ‘a mutilated sea.’ Matthew Neill Null elegantly and eloquently addresses this ecological tragedy and its attendant human diminishment in this thoughtful and moving novel.”
Joy Williams, author of The Quick and the Dead

Honey from the Lion is provocative in its exploration of transgression and redemption and exhilarating in its lyric evocations of this rugged American landscape. Matthew Neill Null establishes himself as a perceptive seer of haunted souls and as an astonishing stylist. Honey from the Lion is a debut to celebrate.”
Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth and Find Me

“Matthew Neill Null recreates a time and place in our nation’s history in which the trajectory of progress seemed limitless and the wilderness and its resources inexhaustible. With exquisitely wrought characters, including the land itself, he takes us into the souls of the unremembered underdogs whose lives were ultimately the price of that progress. In this powerful novel, Null gives us a starkly vivid American story that is, at its dark heart, nothing less than the story of America.”
Lydia Peelle, author of Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing

Honey from the Lion is a master performance. Industry, capital, religion, class, race, and unionization are all rendered through the fully realized loggers, vigilantes, industrialists, and preachers that Null conjures so utterly and empathetically. You will be awed and emptied by this book, and the truth and humanity within it. Honey from the Lion isn’t just beautiful—it’s important. Read it now.”
Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek

“Matthew Neill Null writes with great originality about a place, West Virginia, that his singular vision has made universal. He illuminates the mercenary side of American history—its rapacity and greed—and also the resistance and protest that this novel itself so eloquently represents.”
Zachary Lazar, author of I Pity the Poor Immigrant

Honey from the Lion is a magisterial achievement, suffused with the Faulknerian values of love, honor, pity, pride, compassion, and sacrifice, concerning nothing less than the cohesion of an American civilization. Matthew Null is a brilliant writer and his first novel is a gift.”
Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena