:: Article

The Moon Down to Earth

By Gabriel Hart.

James Nulick, The Moon Down to Earth (Expat Press, 2021)

Some novels have a borderline-occult quality, embedding themselves insidious into your real-time unraveling DNA, it feels challenging to reflect on them. Like trying to look at your nose without the aid of a mirror, you become cross-eyed in an attempt to describe what you see. But there’s a reoccurring sentiment from those of us who have read James Nulick’s The Moon Down To Earth, that it’s unabashedly human.

For those uninitiated to this style (it’s absolutely “Nulickian,” but it’s worth mentioning that he studied under William T. Vollmann before James threw a typewriter through a window, resulting in expulsion) it might first possess a dis-attached fluidity. But upon surrender to his prose’s rhythm and the eight characters’ unique downtrodden plights, you’ll feel you’ve actually become these people, if you weren’t already occupying large parts of them before the first page.

There’s a generosity to Nulick’s work in its immersive intimacy. Whether the action’s loud or private, his lines whisper to you like secrets in the wide-open, wisdom we may have had inside us all along had we the resigned awareness. As I wrote about Nulick’s Haunted Girlfriend (ExPat, 2019), “this book contains everything you never told your parents or everything your parents should have told you, written by a seasoned author who simply knows too much.” With Moon Down to Earth, this feeling has expanded while compressing into a neighborhood cast, a small desert town whose denizens are more connected than they ever bargained for. When a middle-aged white woman (Elizabeth) falls in love with a black teen boy (Jace), it sends curious ripples through the community. Their unlikely connection goes far beyond racial divides — Elizabeth is obese, jobless and homebound, while Jace is gorgeous, full of vitality, charm, and ambition even while humbly employed at the local pizza place.

Given the unique elements to The Moon Down to Earth, I opted out of a traditional review. Instead, I gave another voice to its conversations through the format below — assembling a cut-up into Jace’s bicycle wheel/the pizzas he delivers, the spokes/slices representing the book’s eight vital characters:







Gabriel Hart lives in Morongo Valley in California’s High Desert. He’s the author of Palm Springs noir novelette A Return to Spring (2020, Mannison Press), the dispo-pocalyptic twin-novel Virgins in Reverse / The Intrusion (2019, Traveling Shoes Press). His imminent debut poetry collection Unsongs Vol. 1 (2021, Close To the Bone, U.K.) drops this April. Other works can be found at ExPat Press, Shotgun Honey, Bristol Noir, Crime Poetry Weekly, and Punk Noir. He’s a monthly columnist for Lit Reactor and a regular contributor to EconoClash Review. He’s currently working on two novels, a short story collection, and Unsongs Vol. 2.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, March 5th, 2021.