In another life, Joey Goebel was guitarist and vocalist for punk bands The Mullets and Novembrists. Since then, he’s turned into an author—and an exceptional one, at that. Through his first two novels, The Anomalies and Torture the Artist, Goebel’s maturation as a writer emerges with extensive subplots and added depth of characterization. The Kentucky native excels at draping Middle America as a backdrop and a contrast to his stories’ characters. In Commonwealth, he takes on the jagged world of politics. At age 27, Blue Gene Mapother is content in his world of Wal-Mart, pro wrestling and working flea markets. Meanwhile, his older brother is running for Congress, his father heads up a mighty tobacco company that has netted the family an unspeakable fortune, and his mother is a Christian zealot whose dreams have altered the family path forever. Worlds collide in poignant ways that extend Goebel’s writing chops in new and refreshing ways. While Commonwealth isn’t as wacky and cuttingly satirical as Goebel’s previous works, it does broach topics—made especially hot by today’s political climate—with a keen eye to the absurd and evocative.