The Theoretics of Love

A Novel

Title Details

Pages: 376

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/03/2019

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8330-3

List Price: $28.95


NewSouth Books

The Theoretics of Love

A Novel

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  • Awards

“Skulls do stare back, don’t let anyone kid you.” So says Dr. Clarissa Circle, for not one year after graduating from UT and its infamous “Bone Farm” in Knoxville, she attains regional fame by exposing a supposed Native American burial as a not-so-recent murder. Consequently her dissertation gets revamped and published commercially and she gets hired by UK’s Physical Anthropology Department northward in Lexington, where she also earns a lucrative retainer as consultant for Fayette County’s Metro Police. In the ranks of that same department a mercurial lover appears: a black homicide detective named Willy Cox. Mercurial can run both ways, Clarissa decides, having a fling with an old hippie aptly nicknamed Methuselah, who comes in the picture after a thirty-year-old mass grave containing eight ritualistic murders is unearthed. There were rumors, local historian Methuselah indicates, of a strange campus cult in the early ’70s . . .
Bang! In Manhattan, when the Twin Towers fall, events cascade. A young woman sneaks into Clarissa’s lab to photograph the eight reconstructed death heads during the mesmerizing TV extravaganza of the falling towers. Not-so-passive death threats concerning the eight ritual murders start, which incline Clarissa and Willy to temporarily mend their love life. Methuselah takes up with a young classical guitarist. The odd middle-aged “petite artiste” who’s been stalking Clarissa’s house to draw endless sketches disappears. A young religious zealot gets committed, then released to haunt the campus and neighborhood in a disturbing fashion. On steep banks by the Kentucky River, a double suicide is discovered—or was it a murder of passion? A drug parole office from Louisville visits to add fuel to the cult rumors—just as he adds fuel to another spat between Clarissa and Willy. In sum, love shifts from requited to unrequited and back and forth, just as deaths mount to shuffle from official suicides to official murders. Love, hate, and unsolved murders are getting a workout in the Bluegrass state.

What to say about Joe Taylor’s brilliant, ambitious new novel? That it’s a mystery story wrapped in a literary romp? That its chorus of voices are all convincing, beautifully realized, and full of energetic duende? That its sentences are often Nabokovian and its characters straight out of CSI-Wonderland? That I am in awe of it? All I can say is read it. This is a big-hearted, generous novel—a storyteller’s wet dream—that keeps opening out into fresh marvels. It might knock your socks off. This novel should make him a belletristic star.

—Corey Mesler, author of Memphis Movie and Robert Walker

Joe Taylor is a wonder and a gift to us all, and especially to Southern letters. I'm grateful for his generous spirit, for his big-hearted writing, and, of course, for his astoundingly beautiful beard.

—Brad Watson, author of Miss Jane

Why isn’t Joe Taylor famous? I laughed out loud three times in the first chapter of The Theoretics of Love. A few chapters later, I felt my heart would break. There’s nothing theoretical about Taylor’s talent. You’ll love this love story.

—Charles McNair, author of Pickett's Charge, Land O’ Goshen, The Epicureans, and Play It Again, Sam

Joe Taylor is a quirky genius of a storyteller. In vivid, beautiful language—sometimes erudite, sometimes edgy—he tells of eccentric characters who are in search of the genuine. The Theoretics of Love is emotionally profound, a great joy to read.

—Anthony Grooms, author of Bombingham and The Vain Conversation


Best Indie Books of the Year, Kirkus Reviews

About the Author/Editor

With three previously published novels emphasizing form, and three previously published story collections, JOE TAYLOR moves to realism, love, and murder with his new novel, The Theoretics of Love. Taylor has taught at the University of West Alabama for nearly thirty years and has been the director of Livingston Press at UWA for almost as long. He has edited numerous books, including eight short story anthologies, among them the popular Belles’ Letters and Tartts One through Seven. He lives and loves with Tricia Taylor in Coatopa, Alabama, which is Choctaw for “wounded panther.” He finds the name appropriate enough. Taylor graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy; he later earned a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University.