Nobody Knows How It Got This Good: Short Stories from the Deep South

Winner of the Tartt First Fiction Award

A used car salesman finds himself embattled with a local gang. A U.S. Census enumerator disappears in the Black Belt. A former Birmingham fire fighter is haunted by his involvement hosing peaceful protestors during the Civil Rights Movement. A riverboat captain recounts his time working for a mining company while sailing down the Black Warrior River. A newlywed couple’s honeymoon is botched by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A lynching survivor tells the story of his near-death experience.

Through sixteen stories sharing common environments and characters drawing heavily on the author’s experiences growing up in central Alabama, Nobody Knows How It Got This Good explores themes of racial injustice, class, the Civil Rights Movement, environmental catastrophe, imprisonment, suburbanization, and the perennial themes of love, life and loss. Though set in the Deep South, these stories aspire with humor and pathos to address national dilemmas.  

Nobody Knows How It Got This Good to be published by Livingston Press and available on Amazon in July of 2018.

Notes from James Braziel, Author of Birmingham, 35 Miles and Snakeskin Road

 “If you want to know what the American South has become today and how much the people who live here have given up of their souls and money to fix a past that can’t be fixed, then read Amos Jasper Wright’s debut book, Nobody Knows How It Got This Good. Wright’s characters are truth tellers, and every day they create maps to get them through the city of Birmingham, Alabama with its dangerous steam plant and high rise banks, luxury car dealerships and dilapidated buildings. Eventually the maps lead out of town to the last suppers of violent men, an oil spill in the Gulf, and the coal trade in Columbia so the lights in Alabama can be kept on. But no matter how far they get, they come back looking for signs of change. In the title story, a block party in a parking lot marks the opening of a new superstore in an abandoned mall, and a friend says, ‘Nobody knows how it got this good.’ These stories, told with great care, haunt and bite with revelation.”


Cover photo by William Widmer