Black Flies (Paperback)
Soft Skull Press, 9781593761912, 185pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Novelist Shannon Burke earned stunning reviews for his debut book, Safelight, and now he returns with the same minimalist intensity in this arresting follow-up. Black Flies is the story of paramedic Ollie Cross and his first year on the job in mid-90s New York. In the midst of the crack wars, unemployment and neighborhoods burning to the ground as delinquent landlords cash in, Ollie transforms into a callous EMS. On a job with a premature baby who is possibly brain damaged and HIV positive, Ollie and his partner allow the infant to die and claim it was stillborn. When they are found out, his partner is removed from active service and eventually commits suicide. Ollie must accept what he's done and try to make up for it if he's to pull through and become a competent paramedic.