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Where All Light Tends to Go (Paperback)
A Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel
“Remarkable . . . This isn’t your ordinary coming-of-age novel, but with his bone-cutting insights into these men and the region that bred them, Joy makes it an extraordinarily intimate experience.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Lyrical, propulsive, dark and compelling. Joy knows well the grit and gravel of his world, the soul and blemishes of the place."--Daniel Woodrell
In the country-noir tradition of Winter's Bone meets 'Breaking Bad,' a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption.
The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.
Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when a fatal mistake changes everything, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.
About the Author
David Joy’s stories and creative nonfiction have appeared in Drafthorse Literary Journal, Smoky Mountain Living, Wilderness House Literary Review, Pisgah Review, and Flycatcher, and he is the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey. He lives in Webster, North Carolina. Where All Light Tends to Go is his first novel.
Praise for Where All Light Tends to Go
“[A] remarkable first novel . . . This isn’t your ordinary coming-of-age novel, but with his bone-cutting insights into these men and the region that bred them, Joy makes it an extraordinarily intimate experience.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“[An] accomplished debut . . . In Appalachia, a young outlaw, Jacob McNeely, struggles to escape what Faulkner called that “old fierce pull of blood,” a violent meth-dealing father, the dark legacies of an unforgiving place and the terrible miseries it breeds. [A] beautiful, brutal book.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Readers of Southern grit lit in the tradition of Daniel Woodrell and Harry Crews will enjoy this fast-paced debut thriller. Fans of Ron Rash’s novels will appreciate the intricate plot and Joy’s establishment of a strong sense of place in his depiction of rural Appalachia.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Bound to draw comparisons to Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone...[Joy's] moments of poetic cognizance are the stuff of fine fiction, lyrical sweets that will keep readers turning pages...Where All Light Tends To Go is a book that discloses itself gradually, like a sunrise peeking over a distant mountain range...If [Joy's next] novel is anything like his first, it'll be worth the wait.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Joy’s first novel is an uncompromising noir, its downward thrust pulling like quicksand on both the characters and the reader. And, yet, there is poetry here, too, as there is in Daniel Woodrell’s novels, the kind of poetry that draws its power from a doomed character’s grit in the face of disaster. . . This is the start of a very promising fiction-writing career.”—Booklist
“Gripping . . . Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose establish Joy as a novelist worth watching.”—Publishers Weekly
“Joy’s debut is about hope as much as it is fate . . . [it] is harrowing. Joy’s voice is authentic, his prose sparse, his eye for detail minute. Everything works in this novel to push the reader closer and closer to the cliff’s edge, hoping against hope that what won’t be required is to jump off.”—Mountain Times
“Joy works with the materials many call the stuff of “country noir.” The result calls to mind the work of powerful writers such as Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell, Mark Powell, and Cormac McCarthy . . . Joy has crafted a piece of masterful fiction. His sense of pace, his ability to catch the reader off guard with explosive and often upsetting incidents, his way with the shape of a chapter—all herald a major young writer.”—Still: The Journal
“Where All Light Tends to Go is lyrical, propulsive, dark and compelling. In this debut novel, David Joy makes it clear that he knows well the grit and gravel of his world, the soul and blemishes of the place. He uses details that put us inside the picture, and lets his narrative move at a graceful but restless pace.”—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone and The Maid’s Version
“David Joy has written a savage and moving account of a young man’s attempt to transcend his family’s legacy of violence. Where All Light Tends to Go is an outstanding debut and a fine addition to the country noir vein of Southern Literature.”—Ron Rash, PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena
“Where All Light Tends to Go is deeply rooted in place, written in an assured, authentic voice. David Joy manages to be both lyrical and gritty, loving and horrifyingly violent, funny and grim. His picture of modern Appalachia is rich and evocative, with bold storytelling not often seen in a first novel. This book is an amazing start to a career that could make Joy the Larry Brown of the Appalachians.”—Ace Atkins, New York Times-bestselling author of The Forsaken
“Compelling and authentic . . . a harsh tale of young love’s tender hopes set against the brutal realities of ruined Appalachia. Jacob McNeely’s story is one worth reading.”—Tawni O’Dell, New York Times-bestselling author of Back Roads
“David Joy writes under the auspices of community, heartbreak, and love, and makes use of the warmest color in fiction - gray. What is right and what is wrong and who is to decide? In the North Carolina mountains, these answers don't come easy. Big decisions come with big consequences, and if you second guess, you lose.”—Michael Farris Smith, author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers
“Running with the dopers, drunks and less fortunate in my youth, those who were doomed by their surroundings, the story that David Joy tells is one of truth, power and circumstance and quite possibly a tour de force in American letters.”—Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donnybrook
“Where All Light Tends to Go reads like the whiskey-breath of Harry Crews word-drunk on the lyricism of Daniel Woodrell. It's as brutally beautiful as it is heartbreaking.”—Mark Powell, author of The Dark Corner
“David Joy gives us a world that is equal parts graceful beauty and true grit in this poetic and heart-pounding novel. Where All Light Tends to Go contains those essential elements for a novel that ‘sticks to the ribs’: complex and memorable characters, a palpable sense of place, and a plot that is driven as much by suspense as lyricism. You won't be able to put down this profoundly moving and illuminating look into a mysterious and intricate world where the smell of the southern pines mingles with the scent of cooking meth.”—Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and Eli the Good
“David Joy's Where All Light Tends to Go will be compared to a handful of grit lit masterpieces, but Joy's his own writer. It's a double page turner--I couldn't stop reading, but I relished each page twice, mesmerized by the language and plot twists. For every scene of evil personified, there's goodness. For every horrific act of lawless characters, there's the sublime. I'll remember—and be haunted by—this novel for a long, long time.”—George Singleton, author of Between Wrecks