Finalist, Ottawa Book Award for Fiction 2019
Drugs. Violence. Racism. Despair. The tiny, northern town of Fort Fierce has issues in spades, and most of them fester in the high-rise by the lake.
In this visceral, emotionally raw, and completely absorbing collection, Carlucci takes his readers through the ravaged history of Franklin Place, from its construction during the Cold War to its demolition decades later. We meet the Franklins themselves, three generations of landlords, each more paranoid and alienated than the last. And we meet their tenants: a drug dealer, a lonely bigot, a political activist, a struggling father, a wandering sex offender, a woman who refuses to give into it all. They wander in and out of each other's lives, with little in common but the building and the mould behind its walls.
In The High-Rise in Fort Fierce, Carlucci immerses us in a dim yet eerily familiar world. Love and death, conflict and compromise, fear, determination, and the tense relations between indigenous and settler populations thread the warp and weft of his dark and irrepressible tapestry. We cannot look away.
"The High-Rise in Fort Fierce centres on a cursed building in a northern town. A family's toxic tower, once chi-chi real estate but now full of drugged-out pilgrims and mold spores,concealing an underground man deep in a secret doomsday bomb shelter. The Fort Fierce experience is a harrowing headlong rush; picaresque tales touching on race and cash, alcohol and opiates, and the occasional impulsive homicide, all delivered in Paul Carlucci's violent electric prose."
"[Carlucci calls] forth a fellow feeling as readers confront lives formed by circumstances harsher than their own."
"The mess of humanity that resides in The High-Rise in Fort Fierce — the weirdos and the outsiders, the brave and the bewildered, the ruined and the barely redeemed — are transformed through the blast furnace of Paul Carlucci's immense talent into something transfixing, their raw hope and hopelessness depicted unflinchingly. Hard to watch but impossible to look away."
"Like the subterranean enclave that lies beneath its decaying battlements, The High-Rise in Fort Fierce delves into the secretive heart of contemporary masculinity, exposing its ambiguities and fears, its capacity for both violence and tenderness. Noirish and dystopian, Carlucci has a gift for lyrical turns of phrase that are a counterpoint to the grim settings and unfolding drama."
"Carlucci’s characters are complex and his strength is that he captures how people can be capable of both love and unforgivable brutality."