It begins as a simple dream.
An idealistic environmental scientist moves his wife and young son off the grid, to a stretch of river bottom farmland in the Mississippi hills, hoping to position himself at the forefront of a revolution in agriculture.
Within a year, he is ruined.
When a corpse appears on his family's property, the farmer is convinced he's being set up. And so begins a journey into a maze of misperceptions and personal obsessions, as the farmer, his now-estranged wife, a predatory deputy, and a backwoods wanderer, all try to uphold a personal sense of honour.
A darkly comic debut novel by an independent bookseller, Soil traces one man's apocalypse to its epic showdown in the Mississippi mudflats.
Rural Mississippi is the setting for Kornegay's beautifully written first novel, in which James "Jay" Mize invests all his family's assets into an experiment in soil-free farming, a concept he believes will revolutionize the farming industry and save the world. He convinces his wife, Sandy, of its promise, and she enthusiastically works to make his project succeed. However, bad weather and a family tragedy handicap the endeavor, and Jay faces bankruptcy. In his dejection, he begins having paranoid fantasies, which compel Sandy to regretfully take their son, Jacob, back to town to live temporarily with her father. Jay and Sandy struggle with the breakup of their family and their difficult circumstances. When Jay finds a corpse on his land after an August rain, he believes it came to be there as part of a conspiracy to ruin him. As a result, he initiates a chain of tragic events affecting him, his family, and others. Penetrating characterizations and a well-charted story bode well for future work from this author.