Larry H's Reviews > The Line That Held Us

The Line That Held Us by David    Joy
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really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley

I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars.

After reading David Joy's newest novel, I've come to the conclusion that writers like him and Michael Farris Smith deserve their own sub-genre of fiction, one that I'll call "bleak-tion."

This sub-genre would contain beautifully written books in which a feeling of despair or doom is quite pervasive, and you know that something monumentally, well, bleak is going to happen. (See Joy's The Weight of This World or Smith's Desperation Road or The Fighter .) I don't mean this in a disparaging way, but you shouldn't read these novels in search of a belly laugh.

In the latest addition to the world of bleak-tion, The Line That Held Us , Darl Moody is a country boy who may not have a ton of ambition, but he has taken good care of his mother as well as his married sister and her family since the death of his father a few years before. He's never done anything worse than drink one (or two) too many, except perhaps try and hunt a deer before the season officially opens.

When he's convinced he has seen a colossal buck roaming another man's land, he needs to find it. He knows that poaching is wrong, and he knows it's even worse when you're hunting off the land of a man who is out of town for his sister's funeral, but this buck could provide enough for him and his family to eat. Although the deer proves elusive, he spots a wild hog and takes aim.

It's not a hog he has killed, however; it's Carol "Sissy" Brewer, the slower, gentler son of the brash, violent Brewer family. Carol was hunting ginseng on the farm when he was shot. Darl doesn't know what to do, so he turns to the only person he has ever been able to count on, his best friend since childhood, Calvin Hooper. Despite Calvin's misgivings, he agrees to help Darl bury Carol, and the two vow never to tell anyone what happened that night, which becomes progressively harder as they become increasingly haunted by the events of that evening.

When Carol's older brother Dwayne comes looking for him, he knows right away something bad has happened, and he will leave no stone unturned until he finds what happened to him, and whom shall be held responsible. This determination to uncover the mystery of his brother's disappearance sets him on a collision course with Darl and Calvin, and threatens to upend all of their lives. Dwayne believes in an eye for an eye, and he will exact his revenge, no matter how many people get hurt in the process.

Needless to say, this isn't a happy read, but it is powerful—even gut-wrenching at times—and you probably can predict how the story will unfold. But Joy is an exceptional storyteller, and even the commonplace becomes more fascinating when seen through his lens. He so accurately evokes the mounting sense of dread, the fear, the unhingedness that his characters feel, and he draws you into a story which only rarely has moments of lightness.

Fair warning: this is a book with some graphically depicted violence (mostly toward humans and once toward an animal) and some pretty detailed descriptions of the process a body goes through once a person's life ends. (It made for a somewhat squeamish read on my red-eye flight, I must tell you.) If those things are triggers for you, you'll probably want to pass this one by.

You may want to have a more lighthearted novel at the ready after you finish The Line That Held Us , but you should definitely read this, if only to see a master of "bleak-tion" at work once again.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.

NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
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Reading Progress

May 7, 2018 – Started Reading
May 7, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 8, 2018 – Shelved
May 8, 2018 – Shelved as: netgalley

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

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Lindsay - Traveling Sister Sounds really great Lar! So glad you enjoyed this one. Fantastic review, as always!! 😊


Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister When words fail you, make your own!! I love it, along with your review! ;)


message 3: by Mischenko (new) - added it

Mischenko Loved your review, Larry. Added it! 💙


message 4: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Sounds really good. I am adding. Thanks!


message 5: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Walters I like your new genre...you’re on to something.


message 6: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Sounds like "David Joy" is a misnomer... :-)


message 7: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike I'm just going to poach this one right off the bat and come back to this review after I've read it for myself. I love the fact that you made up a new genre for this one, Larry.


Debra Wonderful Review Larry!


message 9: by Shaina (new)

Shaina Powerful review. Yeah I love making up words. March to the beat of your own drum. Kudos !


message 10: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Excellent review! I'll have to skip for queasiness, though...thanks for the heads-up on that!


Cheri Terrific review, Larry, I have this one waiting for me, and I can't wait - except I have to. Too many in between. I think there are other authors that fall into the same category, or at least the "grit-lit" category, but I will have to see if this crosses a line that I haven't yet seen with his books, yet.


Larry H Lindsay wrote: "Sounds really great Lar! So glad you enjoyed this one. Fantastic review, as always!! 😊"

Thanks so much, Linds!! It's bleak but so well-written.


Larry H Kristin (KC) wrote: "When words fail you, make your own!! I love it, along with your review! ;)"

Thanks, my friend! I thought it was the perfect word for this book and others I've read.


Larry H Mischenko wrote: "Loved your review, Larry. Added it! 💙"

Thanks so much, Mischenko!!


Larry H Melanie wrote: "Sounds really good. I am adding. Thanks!"

Thanks, Melanie!! I hope you enjoy!!


Larry H Elyse wrote: "I like your new genre...you’re on to something."

Thanks, Elyse!!


Larry H Stephanie wrote: "Sounds like "David Joy" is a misnomer... :-)"

Lol, Stephanie! I'll admit I thought of that when I was reading this!!


Larry H Mike wrote: "I'm just going to poach this one right off the bat and come back to this review after I've read it for myself. I love the fact that you made up a new genre for this one, Larry."

Thanks, Mike! Hope the poaching is worth it and works out better than it does for the characters in this book!


Larry H Debra wrote: "Wonderful Review Larry!"

Thanks so much, Debra!


Larry H Shaina wrote: "Powerful review. Yeah I love making up words. March to the beat of your own drum. Kudos !"

Thanks, Shaina!! :)


Larry H Hannah wrote: "Excellent review! I'll have to skip for queasiness, though...thanks for the heads-up on that!"

Thanks so much, Hannah! I thought there was enough worth mentioning so no one went into this book blind.


Larry H Cheri wrote: "Terrific review, Larry, I have this one waiting for me, and I can't wait - except I have to. Too many in between. I think there are other authors that fall into the same category, or at least the "..."

I understand completely, Cheri! Way too many books!


Pattie Terrific review, Larry. I love Joy’s “bleak-tion” style even though hardship, despair and hopelessness are so vividly displayed and oppressive in his novels. I will definitely be reading this one as well. I’m a glutton for good writing and, apparently, heartbreaking drama.


Susanne Strong Powerful review Larry! I've never read a book by David Joy.. but you've sold me.. I just love Michael Farris Smith (as you know).. so this is a must read for me. Thank you for adding another one to my list.. (you always do this to me.. LOLOL). Guess you're my go to.!


message 25: by Glenda (new) - added it

Glenda Fantastic review Larry. Sold...I’m adding it.


message 26: by James (new)

James Thane Nice review, Larry. I really liked Where All Light Tends to Go; I'll look for this one.


message 27: by Dana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dana Great review, Larry. I loved Where All Light Tends To Go...so I’m adding this! There was definitely a sense of doom throughout and was a book that stayed with me.


Larry H Pattie wrote: "Terrific review, Larry. I love Joy’s “bleak-tion” style even though hardship, despair and hopelessness are so vividly displayed and oppressive in his novels. I will definitely be reading this one a..."

Thanks, Pattie! I hope you "enjoy"!


Larry H Susanne wrote: "Powerful review Larry! I've never read a book by David Joy.. but you've sold me.. I just love Michael Farris Smith (as you know).. so this is a must read for me. Thank you for adding another one to..."

Thanks so much, Susanne! The feeling is mutual--you're definitely one I look to for thrillers since you can distinguish between formulaic and great!!


Larry H Glenda wrote: "Fantastic review Larry. Sold...I’m adding it."

Thanks, Glenda!!


Larry H James wrote: "Nice review, Larry. I really liked Where All Light Tends to Go; I'll look for this one."

Thanks so much, James! Hope you enjoy this.


Larry H Dana wrote: "Great review, Larry. I loved Where All Light Tends To Go...so I’m adding this! There was definitely a sense of doom throughout and was a book that stayed with me."

Thanks, Dana! That doom is ever-present here, too. Hope you enjoy this one!!


message 33: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Great review! This wasn't on my radar but is immediately going on my TBR!


message 34: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan Such a wonderful review Larry !!


message 35: by Esil (new) - added it

Esil Fabulous review, Larry. Bleak-tion is a great name for a sub genre, especially since it warns readers about what they’re getting themselves into.


Larry H Jamie Rosenblit wrote: "Great review! This wasn't on my radar but is immediately going on my TBR!"

Thanks so much, Jamie! (I'm so behind on my comments, lol.) Hope you enjoy this--as much as you can!


Larry H Megan wrote: "Such a wonderful review Larry !!"

Wow, thanks so much, Megan!


Larry H Esil wrote: "Fabulous review, Larry. Bleak-tion is a great name for a sub genre, especially since it warns readers about what they’re getting themselves into."

Thanks so much, Esil!! Yeah, sometimes it's good to know a book is really dark.


message 39: by Deanna (new) - added it

Deanna Great review, Larry!


Cheri Fantastic review, Larry! I read this today, I'm still a bit under its spell. So glad you enjoyed this one so much!


message 41: by Debbie (new) - added it

Debbie Great review, Larry! Thanks for the warning about violence. I’m okay with it sometimes, but hearing about what happens to a body after death might be a little much for me. But I do like dark, so am considering.


message 42: by Lindsay (new) - added it

Lindsay G. Excellent review. Thank you!


Nicole Love the concept of “bleak-tion”. Hits the nail right on the head- great review!


Peggy Hayes Please do create your "Bleak-tion' tag so I avoid reading these books and going into a depression spiral afterwards! GREAT review!


message 45: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Excellent review. Definitely agree that a lighter read is in order after finishing this one!!


message 46: by Nadia (new) - added it

Nadia Larry, a truly wonderful review! Thank you. 🤗🌺🌸💕📚💕


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