Miller is a terrifically talented new writer and City Limit is his harrowing debut. Lives at risk to the forces of crime and poverty are given their due, particularly one memorable teenage boy. This novel was hard to put down and impossible to forget.
Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver (Publishers Weekly Best Book 2012)
A dark, gleaming jewel of a novel with dramatic echoes of Beckett and Dickens, about the harrowing life of a fourteen-year-old, virtually homeless boy growing up at the extreme edge of poverty and emotional deprivation. With the drug and illegal gun-sale world of South Dallas as a sharply delineated backdrop, this beautifully written first novel powerfully and unsentimentally describes, in crystalline prose, the costs of a no-childhood childhood.
Lis Harris, Columbia University, former New Yorker staff writer, author of Holy Days and Rules of Engagement
City Limit is an intense, gritty novel of a bleak, hopeless urban landscape, unrelenting and remorseless. Told in a matter of fact, black and white documentary film-like narrative, unembellished by literary conceits, and all the more dark for it, the book depicts the life of a fourteen-year-old child living on the streets of a decrepit area in Dallas, and surviving by living in condemned buildings, selling drugs and guns, and constantly vigilant to avoid victimization. There are shades of Studs Lonegan in the story —but Miller’s protagonist is strictly solitary, devoid even of the pseudo-sociality of gang membership— and an atmosphere reminiscent of Mad Max —but without the melodrama. What haunts the reader is that the story is a slice of life, replicated endlessly, absent even a spark of hope.
This is a memorable, indeed haunting book that leaves the reader stunned and saddened without any use of cheap sentimentalism. Miller is a brilliant writer, as much so for what he leaves out as for what he puts in. It is a book I will not easily forget. I look forward to his future works.
Bernard E. Rollin, author of The Unheeded Cry and The Frankenstein Syndrome, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University
Amidst an urban jungle plagued by drugs, guns, fear, murder and poverty, a precocious youngster finds love during his daily and nightly quest for survival. Moments of happiness ensue before tragedy strikes. Pulling himself from the stranglehold of his past, he finds redemption and rebirth during the reunion with his father. It flows like a movie script and rakes the soul.
Carlos Castro Perelman, physicist, co-author of Against the Tide
Without fanfare this novel draws you into the head of a man-child. Chabney doesn’t know he is speaking in trains of metaphors and might not even know what a metaphor is, but he turns the perfunctory English he has grown up with into a vehicle for communicating loss, conscience, disgust with the adult world, and then impatience with his own disgust.
Chabney is resourceful and industrious; one thing that makes this novel stand out is its respect for work and working. Miller attends to gun repair and illegal gun sale, and Chabney’s moral rise proves that the work is worthy of such close attention.
Nicholas Pappas, author of The Nietzsche Disappointment, Professor of Philosophy, City University of New York
City Limit is a compelling, moving story of personal redemption against seemingly insurmountable odds. The characters and events happen at the limits of poverty in a world of drugs and fear, putting the characters in stark relief and etching them in the reader’s mind. Chabney finds himself caught in this world, existing in condemned buildings and surviving by selling weapons.
Tim Stevens brought a flat open carton, in it the five sawed-offs. His whitened hands gripped the box just fine. Crackerjacks are always maiming themselves.
I was standing by the door already. My feet had turned into beds of hot rocks. “You think if you rush fast enough,” Tim said, “you can dodge the raindrops?”
With shades of Dickens, this novel captures the feel and flavor of its setting —the historic Oak Cliff region of South Dallas— and its atmosphere, moods and back alleys. City Limit was brought to the attention of GrandViaduct by Jim Bratone: “I cannot recall a work that so successfully evokes the character of a place, and of placelessness.” In this hidden city, Chabney frees himself, finds love, loss then ultimately redemption.
Lantzey Miller has worked in landscaping, restaurant kitchens and counters, a research laboratory, and industrial supplies and took a master’s degree and then taught classes. He prefers food, trees, the company of non-adults, real objects, solitude, acoustic instruments and dance and song. He is at work on his next two novels.
by Lantzey Miller
Keywords: Oak Cliff, Hidden City, Drugs, Guns
BISAC Category: Fiction / Urban Life