Nitro Mountain (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

"In Lee Clay Johnson’s gristly, hard-country debut, people living in the hills and hollers around Nitro Mountain, ‘the lost dog capital of the world,’ lead the kind of lives that get written into country songs. Leon’s a broken-armed bass player trying to figure where he fits into everyone’s story. Arnett’s full of hate and homemade corn liquor. Jones is a country singer who wants to do right by his people, but first he’s got to pay his dues and finish the last verse of his perfect song. And Jennifer, she might just make it out alive, if she can ever be satisfied by a life where things aren’t always going wrong. The narration shifts between characters like key changes in a song and Johnson brings the new Appalachian landscape to life in sharp, flat but full prose. This novel is steeped in Appalachian fatalism, the bone deep, born knowledge that if something bad can happen to you, sooner or later it probably will." --Chris

— From Chris's Staff Recommendations


In the mine-riddled town of Bordon, Virginia, a group of lost souls are bound together by alcohol, small-time crime, and music.

Leon is a lovesick bass player with a broken hand and a belief that next time--next time--he'll definitely get it right; Jennifer is the bright-but-battered waitress who can't quite escape the orbit of Arnett, the local drug dealer. When Jennifer convinces Leon to murder Arnett so she can finally be free, a dark chain of events is set in motion, one whose violence echoes the pain and misery that inspire so much of the misery that these people love more than life itself.

About the Author

Lee Clay Johnson grew up around Nashville, Tennessee, in a family of bluegrass musicians. He holds a BA from Bennington College and an MFA from the University of Virginia. His work has appeared in The Oxford American, The Common, Appalachian Heritage, Salamander, and The Mississippi Review. He lives in St. Louis and Charlottesville, Virginia.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101912447
ISBN-10: 1101912448
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 222
Language: English