Barry Graham is a former boxer, former gravedigger and a current novelist, journalist and tireless blogger whose reporting has appeared in magazines ranging from Harper's to Flaunt. He is the author of five other books, including The Book of Man, which was named one of the best books of 1995 by the American Library Association. His article "Why I Watch People Die," about the two executions he has witnessed, won a FOLIO Silver Medal in the Best Single Article Category in 2008. The French magazine Transfuge has called him "one of the great post-realist authors."
Born and dragged up in Glasgow, Scotland, he has traveled widely and has lived in the United States since 1995.
The Wrong Thing
Author: Barry Graham
Publisher: PM Press (Switchblade Series)
Published July 2011
Size: 8 by 5.5
Page count: 172 Pages
They call him the Kid. He's a killer, a dark legend of the Southwest's urban badlands, "a child who terrifies adults." They speak of him in whispers in dive bars near closing time. Some claim to have met him. Others say he doesn't exist, a phantom blamed for every unsolved act of violence, a ghost who haunts every blood-splattered crime scene.
But he is real. He's a young man with a love of cooking and reading, an abiding loneliness and an appetite for violence. He is a cipher, a projection of the dreams and nightmares of people ignored by Phoenix’s economic boom…and a contemporary outlaw in search of an ordinary life. Love brings him the chance at a new life in the form of Vanjii, a beautiful, damaged woman. But try as he might to abandon the past, his past won't abandon him. The Kid fights back in the only way he knows – and sets in motion a tragic sequence of events that lead him to an explosive conclusion shocking in its brutality and tenderness.
"Graham's words are raw and gritty, and his observations unrelenting and brutally honest." —Booklist
"Graham's stories are peopled with the desperate and the mad. A...master." —The Times
"Vivid, almost lurid, prose...a talented author." —Time Out (London)
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- The Wrong Thing: Tucson Weekly
- The Wrong Thing: B&N.com
- The Wrong Thing: Ransom Notes, The B&N Mystery Blog
- The Wrong Thing: Booklist
- The Wrong Thing: Hey Small Press
- The Wrong Thing: Poisoned Fiction Review
The Die is Cast
by Christine Wald-Hopkins
February 16, 2012
Smeared in my reviewer's pencil scrawl cross the top of Page 110 of this new Barry Graham novel are the words: "I CAN'T FINISH THIS BOOK!"
I finished the book. And I skimmed it in a second read, all the while dreading Page 110.
It's not as if you're not warned. In addition to the cover blurb's mentions of a "tragic sequence of events" and "explosive conclusion," Graham's narrator hints from the beginning that things might not turn out so well for the central character. It's just that you come to like the character. Somehow, you feel that as a reader, your involvement in his life might queer the inevitable, or maybe the book might turn into a sort of grown-up Choose Your Own Adventure, or Meditate Your Own Ending. Graham is a Zen monk; can't he arrange something?
Zen Monk Offers Up Brutal Enlightenment in Bloody Little Gem of a Contemporary Noir
By Paul Goal Allen
The Wrong Thing was one of those rare reads that stays with you, like shadows lingering in your subconscious. Although this was a relatively quick read (only 128 pages), it explores a diversity of weighty subject matter – classism, racism, the death penalty, the power (or lack thereof) of love, etc. – and is deeply thought provoking. It's about someone who has lost his way in the world – a young man who is perceived as a monster who is still a scared little boy at heart – but, ultimately, it is about every one of us and our struggle to understand and heal ourselves.
A brutal blend of modern-day myth and crime fiction, The Wrong Thing is the right thing for adventurous readers looking for literary enlightenment.
The Wrong Thing as a top Novella Pick for 2011
by Jedidiah Ayres
Ransom Notes: The B&N Mystery Blog
Speaking of an epic condensed, Graham sings the ballad of The Kid, a criminal cipher of the urban Southwest underground, from birth to death, with all the love, hate, crime and punishment in between in sparse, elegant sentences that strip it to the bone, and completes the tale in 130 pages.Read More | Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top
PM Press’ Switchblade imprint focuses on gritty crime writing at the grim fringe of the genre. The narrative point-of-view here is apparently that of a junkie, and it provides an intimate, inside-the-skull look at the world as experienced by “the Kid.” Otherwise unnamed, Graham’s Hispanic noir protagonist has his short, violent life dissected like a frog on a breadboard. Spanning the Kid’s life from his barrio origins to his inevitable end, Graham builds a razor-sharp character study of a knife-wielding sociopath. Fans of James Sallis’ Drive (2005) and the recently released movie based on it will feel right at home in the Kid’s world.Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top
The Wrong Thing: A Review Hey Small Press
By Don Antenen
Hey Small Press
This is the fifth title in PM Press’s Switchblade Series, which is a collection of hardboiled fiction focusing the lens on the burned and rugged outsiders who “tango at the edge of society.” The Wrong Thing is no exception to this rule. It’s the story of a ravenous killer called The Kid told in rich, journalistic prose. Imagine a ruthless young murderer, not yet to caught and trying to independently reform himself, falling in love. Unfortunately, reality sets in; his past actions come back to him like a karmic boomerang. For fans of Black Lizard, Chester Himes, Barry Gifford, and mystery noir.Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top
The Wrong Thing: A Review by The Poisoned Fiction Review
By Steve Shadow Schwartz
Poisoned Fiction Review
August 16, 2011
The novel is set in Santa Fe and Phoenix and shows a side of these cities we are barely aware of. The barrio of the hispanic underclass is presented by Graham as a place of richness and kindness. It can also be a trap and a road to a life of pain and grief. The Kid's journey through this minefield is riveting and tragic. His story is short, compact, and powerful. The writing is deceptively simple and straight forward. Graham's subtle style weaves a spell-binding web that left me mesmerized. The violence and sex are graphic and presented without judgement. This is strong material wrapped in the cloth of truth.Read More | Buy book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top