The Iron Boys is a novel in the form of an eccentric monologue—indeed a rambling oral history—by one Corbel Penner who brings the reader, through his unique language, obsessions, and relationships, deeply inside the mentality of another time. Corbel becomes a member of a secret, quasi-Luddite band of rebels in the early 1800s. The center point of his circuitous narrative is the destruction of George Withy’s textile factory by a motley band of “rebels against the future.”
The actual Luddites, and their three years of machine breaking, are to this day mysterious, and I’ve taken that historical murk as license to postulate a deeper, perhaps alchemical layer of transformation. Rather than narrate “historical events” from an omniscient distance, I clung to Corbel’s voice and followed wherever it led me. His monologue conveys not primarily the “story,” which emerges of its own accord, but the dislocations, the rants and daydreams, the idiocies and inspirations, accruing as the social contract is frayed. —Thomas Frick
THOMAS FRICK was born in Kentucky and lives in Los Angeles where he is a writer, editor, and publishing consultant. He has received awards and fellowships for his writing—short fiction and essays—which have been widely published. This is his first novel.