CRITICAL RESPONSE

His is a unique voice… always compelling us, as readers, as audience, to enter his world for a time.
– Southern Voice

There are few writers who can sustain our attention through tone and voice. Jim Grimsley belongs in this elite group.
– Fred Chappell, Raleigh News & Observer

His writing is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. His books are wrenching stories, magnificently told.
– Just Out

Dark, harsh, bleak, yet shining with a delicate and sensitive (and unsentimental) poetry, Jim Grimsley’s novels are not easily described; or, to put it more accurately, the story line can in fact be described in a few sentences, but the usual literary terms and definitions are not at all adequate and fail to do justice to the intense and complex experience of his fiction.
– George Garrett, Southern Excursions

 

Winter Birds

The violence is just half the story. The other half is the poetry that infuses Winter Birds… A white-trash Southern landscape viewed from a gay perspective, with the bitterness of memory but also with unwavering, unsentimental love.
– The New Yorker

Remarkable… The story hits you in the gut.
– Michael Skube, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tell everyone. I have rarely read anything as powerful. Winter Birds is altogether marvelous, so beautifully written I wanted to steal it and pretend it was mine, or go on tour reading it aloud so people could hear how getting it right makes you both hurt and happy, makes you cry out loud and sing praises, simply that we are human.
– Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard out of Carolina

A story that blisters the sensibilities and shreds the heartstrings.
– Susan Lynne Harkins, Orlando Sentinel

Extraordinarily vivid… written very close to the senses. The sight, sounds, smell, and feel of the country are wonderfully realized.
– Katharine A. Powers, The Boston Globe

Like a Greek tragedy, Winter Birds moves inexorably from its hypnotic opening to its final, chilling revelation, leaving the reader stunned, exhausted, and wonder-struck.
– Ron Carter, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Winter Birds is a tough, loving book written with grace and restraint. It merits comparison to Steinbeck.
– Philadelphia City Paper.

Read this book. It is a remarkable way  to live for a while in the lives of people who must live these lives all the time.
– Ashby Brand Chowder, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Grimsley has told an all-too-common tale of abuse with uncommon elegance and endurance. His world is mesmerizing, blending icy horror with warm nostalgia. He shines a compassionate and understanding light on the unforgivable memories of the past. Winter Birds is his catharis – and ours.
– Britt Reno, The Virginian Pilot & Ledger Star

Grimsley has created a harrowing Southern gothic world, reminiscent of Faulkner or Caldwell. A remarkable first novel.
– George Needleman, Booklist

One of the most beautifully written and emotionally passionate books I’ve read in years.
– Rebecca Brown, Seattle Weekly

I think I will not read another novel this year. Nothing else can be as vivid, as awful and awesome as this wonderfully harsh book. To turn the story of this harsh world into art, as Grimsley has, requires a sort of genius.
– Max Steele, author of Debby and The Hat of my Mother

This novel is as gripping as our hardest realities and as beautiful as our deepest loves.
– Romulus Linney, author of Holy Ghost

Jim Grimsley’s Winter Birds is a disturbing and compassionate look at time, a family and a place vividly real and meaningful.
– Horton Foote, author of The Trip to Bountiful

Beautifully, eloquently written, with compassion addressing itself on every page.
-The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Not since Dorothy Allison’s award-winning Bastard out of Carolina has there been such a moving picture of abuse and survival. This powerful little novel will take you places Court TV never could.
– Angie P. Howard, Birmingham News

If there was a Richter scale with which to measure emotional intensity, Winter Birds would come out at an 8.8 and the aftershocks would register for weeks afterward. If the line between love and hatred could be clearly discernible, Winter Birds would be its yardstick. If I were to write a novel, I would wish it to be half as fine as Winter Birds.
– Marilyn Chenault, Vero Beach Press Journal

 

Dream Boy

With this heartbreaking story of first love, Grimsley, recipient of the 1995 Sue Kaufman Prize for his first novel, Winter Birds, has crafted another potential award winner. Here he works that novel’s theme–a father’s abuse of his son–into his sensitive depiction of a love affair between two high-school boys in the rural South. Nathan, a sophomore and the only child of an abusive, scripture-quoting, booze-guzzling father and a nearly invisible mother, becomes smitten with Roy, a senior who lives next door. Almost without realizing it (and with some reluctance on both sides), they begin an achingly tender romance. Ultimately, peer pressure leads to tragedy, and to a sort of metaphysical denouement that may strike some readers as over-the-top. But by that time, Grimsley’s scenario has become so poignant and credible that the ending seems almost inevitable. He clearly understands the pain and confusion of budding love, and his present-tense narrative adds urgency and a touching immediacy to his tale. Without ever succumbing to cliche, Grimsley cuts with surgical precision to the heart of these characters’ inchoate longings and barely repressed fears. Deceptively simple descriptive passages are hauntingly elegiac, and things left unsaid become as important as words expressed: these players’ silences speak volumes. Romantic passion, violence and ultimate liberation coalesce in this singular display of literary craftsmanship.
– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Holds the reader’s attention as completely as a line of gunpowder sputtering its way toward a keg of explosives… captivating.
– Geoff Manson, San Francisco Review of Books

I’ve never read a novel remotely like Dream Boy, and my admiration for Jim Grimsley’s power is widened and deepened.
– Reynolds Price, author of A Long and Happy Life

Grimsley proves once again that he can create believable characters and poignant situations that are resonant and heartfelt.
– Winston-Salem Journal

Leaves us with a powerful flavor and a flow of admiration.
– Fred Chappell, Raleigh News & Observer

Dream Boy is a powerful, fantastic novel.
– The Columbia State

A tender… work of the soul that places Grimsley in the hallowed company of Baldwin, Carson McCullers in the school of emotional verisimilitude, and renders his story one to finish reluctantly and to part from never.
– Lawrence Schubert, Detour Magazine

Dream Boy is unforgettable.
– The Southern Pines Pilot

Superbly written… Grimsley writes with such quiet delicacy.
– Detroit Free Press

Powerful.
– Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

A strange and haunting work with uncommon tenderness… readers will be drawn by Grimsley’s translucent prose and emotional authenticity.
– Tom Beers, Out Magazine

One of the best novels of 1995… at times incredibly erotic and arousing, at others heart-poundingly frightening… An exquisite novel.
– Gregg Shapiro, Gay Chicago Magazine

An intense, lyrical narrative that explores the psychic intersections of love, sex, fear, violence, and repression.
– Richard Morrison, Independent Reader

Jim Grimsley confronts the violence of adolescent homophobia, but also, and maybe more importantly, he describes the emotional texture — the loneliness — of growing up queer, and the bravery and special intensity of finding love in a hostile environment. Grimsley demonstrates that two working-class boys loving each other, in the rural South, is an act as profound as it is simple.
– Justin Torres, Author of We the Animals

 

My Drowning

An evocative, uncompromising account of a hardscrabble childhood in rural North Carolina that shows Grimsley to be an accomplished stylist and a complex moralist… Grimsley’s delicate prose and the defiant resilience of his protagonist make reaching his work a richly gratifying experience.
– Publishers Weekly, (starred review)

Moving, vivid, and very real: a work of tremendous, quiet intensity.
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A compelling tale of a woman haunted by a half-remembered past.
– Library Journal (starred review)

Even the desperately poor in fact and in spirit also have a depth of being that can scarcely be imagined by others. This is a heavy burden for a slender, tightly trimmed, pared-down, evocative novel to carry… There is nobody that I know of who writes like Grimsley, none among us who can speak so well  for those who have been voiceless, if not ignored, amid the clamor of our culture.
– George Garret, Southern Excursions

Ellen is an appealing narrator, and these recollections of stolen moments of love provide welcome relief from the viciousness all around her. They also provide occasions for some lyrical prose among Mr. Grimsley’s powerful and painfully detailed descriptions of an especially vile sort of poverty.
– Edward Hower, New York Times Book Review

Grimsley writes lucidly and well. There’s a lyric intensity and a quiet authority in Ellen’s narrative voice, and thoughtful consideration has been given to the question of how one makes peace with the griefs of the past.
– Francine Prose, People Magazine

My Drowning should secure [Grimsley’s] reputation as one of the finest southern novelists to appear in a long, long time.
– Kelly McQuain, The Philadelphia Inquirer

The characters are worthy of Grimsley’s sensitive, lyrical prose and claim our respect in this evocative and graceful novel that holds us to the end.
– Joan Hinkemeyer, Rocky Mountain News

Finely carved characters weave in and out of the narrative… In scene after heartbreaking scene, Grimsley… escapes being sanctimonious and sentimental.
– Shawn Stewart Ruff, Southern Voice

Told with an almost poetic lyricism… an affirmation of the human spirit.
– Ben Steelman, Wilmington Sunday Star-News

In the tradition of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, Grimsley’s novel makes explicit the true grime of poverty… Yet he gleans from Ellen Tote’s childhood a story of courage, hope, love, and most astonishingly, beauty.
– Katherine Price, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Jim Grimsley’s Ellen Tote is a flawless creation.
– David Finkle, Trenton Times

Compelling to read and… written in what is sure to become known as Grimsley’s uniquely stylized voice.
– Gregg Shapiro, Miami TWN

Haunted and haunting… uses language as an artist might his paints and canvas, turning imagination into reality and awareness into sensation.
– Anniston Star

Jim Grimsley brings events to startling life with a lyrical intensity and with a prose so strong and understated that no reader can fail to live Ellen’s experience.
– Mary McKay, New Orleans Times-Picayune

My Drowning proves memorable not only for the questions it answers, but for the many it offers up. This offering, accomplished with grace and style, is one of the freshest reads in a long time.
– Mike Isaacson, The St. Louis Riverfront Times

Jim Grimsley is a writer of great depth. Through the innocent eyes and beautiful spirit of Ellen, he creates a near-poetic novel about human suffering, selfishness, and cruelty… My Drowning is inspiring.
– Britt Reno, The Virginian-Pilot

Grimsley writes with the transcendent grace of an angel.
– Bob Summer, The Orlando Sentinel

By the last chapter of My Drowning, you become so entranced with Jim Grimsley’s detail… you must remind yourself to breathe. And when you’ve finished the last word, you will return to the beginning and read again… Haunting.
– Jessica English, Albuquerque Weekly Alibi

A startling feat of the imagination.
– Michael Lowenthal, The Boston Phoenix

My Drowning is his most powerful [novel]. Grimsley shows enhanced dramatic instincts and a keen ear for dialect, interspersing the jargon of his poor “white trash” family with his own clean, honed rhythmic prose. It will be surprising if this does novel does not launch Grimsley into the mainstream of Southern writers.
– Barbara Holliday, Detroit Free Press

Grimsley’s third novel is his best yet… Grimsley’s new work explores, with surprising tenderness and lyricism, family violence as well as the cruelties inherent in growing up dirt-poor in the South.
– Ed Madden, The Columbia State

To say that Jim Grimsley’s books will haunt you is an understatement. They grab you by the eyeballs and you know “attention must be paid.”… If you do not know his work, you are missing the contributions of an important contemporary Southern writer. Resolve to correct that immediately.
– Ruth Moose, The Southern Pines Pilot

It’s hard to imagine another novel as strong as this in the same calendar year. Grimsley’s writing is assured and daring, and his characters – a clump of backwoods white trash – are gracefully drawn in this, his third novel… A must read.
– R.L. Pela, The Advocate

Grimsley once again creates a vivid sense of place… Simply powerful.
– Kathy Brown, Lexington Herald-Leader

Felicitous prose makes My Drowning memorable… A vivid perdurable reminder of the price we pay, moral and psychological, to be the more-than-crooked creatures we so sadly are.
– Lee K. Abbot, The Miami Herald

Reading Jim Grimsley is like those seconds after you’ve slammed on the brakes, braced for impact, and are sliding toward disaster or escape… Grimsley has created a protagonist whose experiences are vivid and true: we follow her to the end, however painful it may be.
– Audrey Van Buskirk, Willamette Week

Grimsley is the anti-Scott Fitzgerald, reminding us that the very poor are different from you and me… What redeems this horror story is Grimsley’s lack of sentimentality.
– Betsy Willeford, Newark Star-Ledger

Intense… [Grimsley] does a rare, superb job… The power of some of his rollercoaster sentences lies in their innocent beginnings that progress toward dropping the floor from beneath the reader’s feet before the period is reached.
– Candice Sackuvich, National Catholic Reporter

My Drowning is magnificent… Grimsley has gone back to the world of Winter Birds and found something completely new.
– Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto.

 

Comfort & Joy

Grimsley has a steady hand with the beautifully turned sentence, and his mature, sympathetic but rarely sentimental eye for the warp and woof of relationships should please his old fans and gain him some new ones.
– Washington Post Book World

Anyone who’s ever brought a significant other home to meet the folks should relate to this affecting story.
– Entertainment Weekly

Tells a story of relationships and the power we have over each other – a power to both crave and fear. Highly recommended.
– Library Journal

Comfort and Joy turns out to be one of the most satisfying and touching reads of the year.
– Hero Magazine

Comfort and Joy stands on its own as a finely honed, understated tale of love and its challenges… Grimsley has presented the story of these two men and their families beautifully and memorably. Comfort and Joy is a rewarding read.
– San Francisco Bay Area Reporter

The novel’s highly poetic language intensifies that charge [of suspense], with frequent passages of such lyric beauty they could stand alone as poems.
– Chicago Tribune

Grimsley gets it absolutely right.
– The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

His fullest an most human novel yet, a work whose commendable restraint does not impede its emotional impact.
– Publishers Weekly

Grimsley’s a big talent worthy of notice.
– Out Magazine

This novel brings eloquence and humor to a complex subject.
– The Miami Herald

A boy-meets-boy love story… a complex harvest of thought about society and identity.
– Brightleaf Magazine

Do you split with your partner at holiday time, just to keep peace in the biological family, or do you take your partner home to meet the folks?… This book is highly recommended for anyone who has ever had to fact the question… Readers might consider buying a second copy as a gift for Mom and Dad. Who knows? If enough people read this book, maybe the question won’t be so complicated after all.
– Baltimore Gay Paper

Grimsley shines: an entire novel of families in various states of uproar and men finding lives for which there is no users’ manuals.
– Lambda Book Report

[An] emotional powerhouse about family, relationships, and, above anything else, love – not the love felt for a passing fling or a casual friend, but the tough, aching knot that binds lovers and families together for years.
– Seattle Weekly

Profoundly beautiful. The people, places, and interactions are familiar, yes, but the familiarity is only the starting point of our emotional involvement with Grimsley’s delicate, flawlessly written poetry as it reveals the interiors of human life.
– Creative Loafing

Grimsley once again brings to life the lush texture of the South and illustrates how class divides people.
– The Washington Blade

Comfort and Joy is something of an old-fashioned page-turner… Grimsley’s fine, rigorous prose makes a similarly strong case for setting down a drama of singular inner feeling, and Comfort and Joy unfolds under that same irresistible sign.
– Bookforum

In its honest and understated way and set in a season that fosters magnanimity, Comfort and Joy is an appeal for peace and goodwill.
– The Orland Sentinel