Where All Light Tends to Go

Where All Light Tends to Go

by David Joy

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425279793
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 128,122
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

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.

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Excerpted from "Where All Light Tends to Go"
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Copyright © 2016 David Joy.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Where All Light Tends to Go
 
“Gripping . . . Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose establish Joy as a novelist worth watching.”—Publishers Weekly

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
 

Reading Group Guide

WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO Discussion Guide

1. According to David Joy, part of the inspiration for the novel was exploring the idea of manhood. He says: “All young men are faced with discerning what exactly it means to be a man, but, for many, what is illuminated, and even glorified, is volatile.” Do you agree? What does manhood mean for Jacob? What about his father?

2. Though the novel contains much darkness and violence, there are many scenes where humor and tenderness shine through. Which moments in the book did you find the funniest? The most poignant?

3. David Joy brings to the novel a strong sense of place. What role does the setting play in the story?

4. Consider the characters of Jacob’s mother and father. What kind of legacy have they left for Jacob? Is either of them at all sympathetic?

5. Jacob and Maggie have conflicting ideas about the power of personal agency versus the inevitability of fate. Why are their viewpoints so different? Which perspective do you identify with more?

6. Once they rekindle their relationship, it takes quite some time for Maggie and Jacob to be comfortable with each other again and figure out how they want to move forward together. Why, despite all the years they’ve known each other and been close, is this process so difficult? What conflicts have gotten in the way?

7. As the violence continues to escalate, why does Jacob make the choices he does? Are there any alternatives he could pursue?

8. Were you surprised by the ending? Why, or why not?

9. In the book’s last lines, it says that Jacob “finally understood that there’d never been any difference between here or there. Only the middle ground of this wicked world mattered, the vast gap that stretched between, and those who were born with enough grit to brave it.” What do you think this means?

10. What is the significance of the title?

11. The author describes the novel as “Appalachian noir.” Does that description resonate with you? What elements does the book share with classic noir stories? Where does it diverge?

Customer Reviews