Monday, March 9, 2020

Sean Doolittle on Rut by Scott Phillips

One of the things I love most about Scott Phillips’s books is the sense that only Scott would think of them, and only he could pull them off.

A great example for me is Rut, published in 2011 by Concord Press. I’ve thought back to this book many times since I first read it nearly a decade ago. All I specifically remembered about the story was how much I enjoyed reading it, how much I admired the craft of it, and, like all of Scott’s books I’ve read, the indelible feel of it. Warped, gritty, futuristic mountain west realism with a hint of depravity... that is a very specific vibe, man. And it felt just exactly that way when I reread it for this post, too. Even better: the characters sprang immediately back, the way memories of real people do. People you always remember, even after you’ve forgotten them.

A lot of that is purely because of the great writing. But a lot of what makes the writing so great, in my opinion, is the singular Scott Phillipsness of it all. The narrative voice is a perfectly modulated blend of bygone formality and modern vulgarity, sprinkled all over with detail that feels fresh, unexpected, yet utterly authentic. What a beguiling mix.

If you haven’t visited Gower, the busted ski town at the center of Rut’s climate-changed dystopia, I whole-heartedly encourage you to do so. Spend some time with the residents of this once-glamorous, long-blighted community, as mangled and mutated yet thriving in their way as the wildlife around the local toxic sludge pit, and see if you don’t recognize a few people you already know.

(Scott's latest novel, That Left Turn at Albuquerque is available now. Grab a copy at your favorite local bookstore through Indie Bound or from

Subterranean Books (they'll have signed editions)

Barnes & Noble


Sean Doolittle is the author of several crime and suspense novels. His books have received the Barry Award and the International Thriller Writers Award, among other honors. His latest is Kill Monster. He lives in western Iowa with his family. Keep up with Sean at his website and follow him on Twitter @seandoolittle.

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