Curnutt is a good-natured man but not a comic writer. I had hoped, and for a few pages felt, that "Dixie Noir" was something lighter. It seemed at first as if Curnutt were having some fun with noir, that this novel might be a send-up of the noir genre, something like what Garrison Keeler does in Guy Noir, Private Eye, but this turned out definitely not to be the case.
There is no question about whether Curnutt's first novel is well done. Breathing Out the Ghost has already won the Independent Publishers bronze medal for fiction and the 2008 Best Book of Indiana in Fiction, and is a finalist in the Foreword Magazine fiction competition.
A drug-crazed redneck is heading down the highway with his kidnapped girlfriend in the trunk. A nervous middle-aged man is driving on a date, and a hundred miles away a young female college professor is getting into her car with her 21-year-old-student lover to drive to Florida to declare their lesbian love to her probably unsuspecting parents.