40 Patchtown


Product Details

Bottom Dog Press
Publish Date
5.51 X 8.5 X 0.44 inches | 0.54 pounds
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About the Author

Born into a coal mining family in western Pennsylvania, Damian Dressick worked for many years as a marketing executive in New York, Los Angeles and Paris before packing up his kit to return to Somerset County to research and write the novel 40 Patchtown. The book is inspired by an incident during the 1922 coal strike which his grandfather described while sitting around the kitchen table decades later. After renting a four-room wood frame company house in the coal patch town of Mine 37, Dressick spent months researching the rhythms of coal town life in the early part of the twentieth century, interviewing retired miners, their wives, and widows, and immersing himself in the coal heritage materials housed at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Dressick drafted the novel in the duplex frame house, until an occupant on the other half set the house on fire in a failed attempt to murder his roommate. After being injured retrieving the manuscript from the house as it burned, the author revised the novel while living in Windber in the house of his maternal grandmother.

Damian Dressick is the the author of the story collection Fables of the Deconstruction. His much praised fiction and essays have appeared in more than fifty literary journals and anthologies, including W.W. Norton's New Micro, Post Road, failbetter.com, Cutbank, Hobart, New Orleans Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Hippocampus, and New World Writing. A Blue Mountain Residency Fellow, he holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in Creative Writing from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. Described by Frederick Barthelme as an artist to be reckoned with, Dressick currently teaches at Clarion University.


Deftly paced, gritty and poised, pitch perfect in its voice and historical rendering, Damian Dressick's debut novel 40 Patchtown accelerates from its opening pages with desperate energy. Set against the comfortless backdrop of the brutal 1922 coal miners' strike of Windber, Pennsylvania, the novel follows fatherless fourteen-year-old Chet Pistakowski as he struggles to support his mother and siblings in a setting dictated by violence, poverty, and manipulation. Told in lean, convincing, and clear-eyed prose, this historical and evocative coming-of-age story reveals a young man torn between family and morality, desperation and desire, circumstances and escape. James Charlesworth, author of The Patricide of George Bernard Hill
Inspired by incidents during the 1922 coal strike in Pennsylvania, Dressick spent months researching the rhythms of early coal town life. Interviewing family members, retired miners, their wives, and widows, he immersed himself in the coal heritage materials, many housed at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Described by Frederick Barthelme as "an artist to be reckoned with," Dressick currently teaches at Clarion University

"40 Patchtown reads like a cross between E.L. Doctorow's monumental novel Billy Bathgate and Breece Pancake's deathless story 'Hollow'--it's a work of fully imagined historical fiction that endows its characters with incandescent life, told in the unmistakable language of the early twentieth century coalfields. It pulls the neat trick of feeling bound to a highly specific time and place while simultaneously giving the impression of classic timelessness. As fine a first novel as one could hope for." Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories