Curtis Martin

Pine Grove Gothic

Pine Grove Gothic is more about the times than it is the story itself. The characters live, react to, and disintegrate in the world of rampant drug use in a rural area of Appalachia. Hidden from the general public due to poor media coverage, this novel attempts to break open the lives of people, families, and children affected by this scourge. This is not a happy, hopeful, or moral uplifting story. It is fierce and honest, tragic, and there is not positive outcome.

Pine Grove Gothic revolves around Raymond Duvall and his family and their lives in the Pine Grove Trailer Park. Raymond is an angry alcoholic. Lynn is addicted to heroin. Raven and Pup are their children who struggle with the addictions that drive their parents from day to day, hour by hour. The trailer park is a menagerie of characters from other drug addicts, to the morbidly obese, and those with chronic medical conditions. But this isn’t exceptional, it’s everyone’s reality. There is the murder of Mrs. Keirns. There is the need to get more heroin. There is the tremendous stress of profound poverty.

Pine Grove Gothic is about everyone’s struggle in the milieu of drugs and what it takes to get them. The traditional roles of husband, wife, and family are shattered by this ever— present struggle. Since childhood, a childhood filled with abuse, Lynn knows what she has to do to get her required fix. Raymond tries his best to fulfill her needs, but his love of alcohol since the age of twelve keeps him from providing for Lynn and his children. Raven, nine, is her brother’s protector, shielding him as best she can from their tough reality; from their father. Pup, seven, is delayed by the effects of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. He is on potent medication to curb is aggression and ADHD. He finds his solace in his sister, the stray dog, Roy, and the woods and creek that run along the trailer park. The two siblings witness and are victims of their parents addiction; suffering from lack of food, to being in the trailer while Raymond makes methamphetamine, to finding Lynn overdosed on a variety of lethal drugs. In the end the Duval family dissolves under the overwhelming pressure.

Pine Grove Gothic is for the reader who wants action and a compelling story line and not in five hundred or a thousand pages. The murder of Mrs. Keirns is brutal. Sex is without love. The story is current but generational. The role of legal and illegal drug use affects us all. When Lynn is asked by a TV reporter what will stop her addition, Lynn relies, “Probably a casket.”
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Curtis Martin
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