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Where All Light Tends to Go
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Group Reads: Post-1980 > Where All Light Tends to Go, Final Impressions, May, 2015

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message 1: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
You're done. Loved it? Hated it? Don't give a darn? What did you think? If you wrote a review, please post a link to it here. We want to know what you thought.

"Lawyer Stevens"


Eden | 4 comments Here is the link to my review! I loved it; 5 stars!!! https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... (let me know if you can't see it)

I just want to mention that I was an English Major in college with a concentration in Creative Writing and even took an Appalachian Literature course, so I understand the structure of storytelling, character development, etc. (I hope that helps give my review more credence.)


Josh | 185 comments I can feel the punches coming my way, and in no way would I disagree with those who loved this one. It was perhaps my HUGE desire to like this one that lead to a bit lower rating than most will give. I appreciate Dawn's nomination, and I hope everyone else disagrees with me 100%. My critique is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Don't count my opinion as worthy though- go read this one, it's quick (both to the marrow and in time required).


message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
This was a quick read, but I will have to agree with Josh on this one. It just didn't do it for me. I think this may be one of those "either or" books depending on the reader. I have relatives in those mountains, and while none of them are involved in the meth trade (as far as I know), the characters and their speech do not ring true for me. Like Josh, I thought he overdid some phrases and scenes, Winston soft pack and Jos. A Bank, for example.
It was a good story, though bleak, but I absolutely did not care about any of the characters, maybe because for me they were unbelievable. I think it's unfair to compare David Joy to any other author of grit lit, because, after all, it is a first novel, and I hope with some honing of his literary chops, he will get better.


message 5: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Laura | 1999 comments Mod
Based on the first question Moderator Mike stated above, "loved it? Hated it? Don't give a darn?" I would say I don't give a darn.....love it or hate it, I don't care. It's not a book I just loved reading. I did give it a 3 because the ending/surprise twist bumped from a 2 star to a 3 star read. However, I'm probably not going to think much about this book 15 days from now. It was not horrible but it was also not memorable. I don't think it was a waste of my reading time. It just wasn't very enjoyable to read and that's basically why I read, to enjoy the book. To each their own.


message 6: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Laura | 1999 comments Mod
That said, when the author's next book comes out, I'll probably read it. I don't scare that easy. Now, I am going to read some member's reviews instead of just looking at the stars they gave the book. Didn't want to spoil anything by reading reviews ahead of finishing.


message 7: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
I finished the book today and Wow!, what an ending!

I was reluctant to start this book figuring that it would, like Winter's Bone, be about poverty, drug abuse, ignorance, and dysfunctional families, something that I looked forward to reading about almost as much as I do having teeth pulled. My assessment as to what the story contained was correct but what surprised me was that Jacob was a character that I could identify with and whom it was easy to root for. I really wanted him to win, and in this story, winning is escaping the aforementioned poverty, drug abuse, ignorance, and dysfunctional families.

In the other thread I said that the book made me think of Townes Van Zandt's song " Waitin ‘Round to Die" and it does. It also reminded me of " You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive". Both beautifully represent the harsh realities of living where there is no opportunity to get ahead.


Josh | 185 comments I agree, the ending was an unwelcome, unexpected one, but I did like the twist despite its implications for the lead character.


message 9: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Josh wrote: "I agree, the ending was an unwelcome, unexpected one, but I did like the twist despite its implications for the lead character."

Unexpected, yes, but not necessarily unwelcome. On reflection I think it was the best of all possible endings.


April (april_s_hall) | 2 comments Thanks for inviting me to join this group, Mike.

I probably would have never found this book without this group. And I have to say that I'm in the "very impressed & loved it" camp. Joy's characters (especially Jacob) drew me in and I really enjoyed the language he used to make this world real for me.

And, I really have to give Joy further kudos for the ending. I had strong suspicions (and maybe a little hope) that Jacob might just make it out of his ugly legacy after all, but Joy didn't let that happen. It made me feel awful for Jacob, but it rang true. I admire that he took the more truthful way out of this story, rather than the hackneyed, ever popular, happy ending. Happy endings to this kind of story are rare, as you made repeatedly and interestingly clear with the details from your work in law, Mike. Sad, but true.

I look forward to reading more SLT fiction along with all of you.

I never realized it, but I have actually read quite a few of the older guard of Southern Lit. In fact, I did a course on Faulkner when I was at Uni doing my English degree. I had been a precocious young reader but could not make much sense of The Sound and the Fury, when I first tried it around fourteen, and really only came to appreciate it when I re-read it for the class. Since then it, along with The Hamlet, have been two of my all time favorite books.

And, sort of related, but kooky, is that one of my dogs (a big black DaneX) is named Faulkner (William Faulkner Jr, in fact). Irrelevant, I know, but maybe it brought a little smile to someone's face.


message 11: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
April, your dog's name did make me smile. We name all our dogs after fish, so maybe I can claim a Faulkner connection: Instead of "My mother is a fish", I can say, "My dog is a fish." Welcome to the group.


message 12: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
April wrote: "Thanks for inviting me to join this group, Mike.

I probably would have never found this book without this group. And I have to say that I'm in the "very impressed & loved it" camp. Joy's characte..."


Welcome to "The Trail," April! Your comments serve as a fine introduction and I join you in your appreciation of Joy's novel. It certainly rang true for me. It was impossible for me not to draw comparisons to Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, who has become one of my favorite contemporary Southern authors. Yes, I do consider Missouri "Southern."

I do look forward to your continued reads along with the group. I, too, was a precocious younger reader. My mentor was Miss Maxine Lustig, a co-owner of Lustig's Bookstore, which had been founded by her father Henry around 1909 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Miss Maxine took me under her wing, introduced me to my first Faulkners, Modern Library Editions. Miss Maxine knew I would spend every cent I had. However, she would only allow me to buy one book at a time. She required me to return to discuss the book with her to see "if I got it." When I demonstrated to her satisfaction I had distilled what she considered the essence of the book, she "allowed" me to go on to the next selection, always suggested by her. Miss Maxine took me through Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Capote's In Cold Blood, Heller's Catch-22. Essentially, by the time I entered college, I discovered Miss Maxine had led me through every book which would become required college reading. Thanks to Miss Maxine, it was not required, it was pure fun. She provided me with years of discovery of works of literature that have stayed with me for a lifetime.

At University, I had an eclectic curriculum. I ended with a major in Psychology and a double minor in English and Latin. Then decided to become Atticus Finch by attending law school.

However, along the way to Law School, my Faulkner mentor was O.B. Emerson, a little banty rooster of a man, prone to crisp seersucker suits, well shined loafers, bright bow ties,and a taste for Wild Turkey Bourbon. Professor Emerson's author nonpareil was Faulkner. He was an early Faulkner scholar, though never achieving the fame his successors would. However, his love of Faulkner and his work shone through in his lectures. Emerson cemented my love of Faulkner which Miss Maxine had sparked. Light in August became my favorite as a result of his influence, though I have relished what many consider to be Faulkner's "minor" works. I'll take a minor work by Faulkner any day compared to a major work by other authors. *smile*

Now, on the subject of smiles...Yes, the dog of yours, William Faulkner, Jr. A good cup of coffee always should be accompanied by a smile. That was provided by you this morning.

I can't claim a literary lion namesake for a dog. BUT! I do have a nervous cockateal named "Buddy," for Truman Capote who was known by that name when he lived with his Monroeville, Alabama, relatives. *GRIN*

Here's to sharing more SLT reads with you!


message 13: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Now, for my final impressions of Where All Light Tends to Go. Here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... .

As I am wont to do, there may be revisions here and there as I find additional material on the novel. This work is generating a good deal of buzz in the literary world.

Joy's second novel The Weight of This World is scheduled for release by Putnam in Spring 2016. The Prologue to the novel may be read here: https://davidjoyncauthor.wordpress.co... .

"Lawyer Stevens"


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi yall,

Wanted to say that I am in the category of folks who LOVED this book. The South Carolina Book Festival was held last weekend in Columbia and I was able to meet David Joy and talk with him a few times over the course of the day. He was a very kind, soft spoken man who was MUCH taller than I had expected him to be. We talked Southern/Grit lit and he and I shared the love of William Gay's short stories and many other authors that we have read or discussed here. He said that Donald Ray Pollock's "The Devil All The Time" was one of the best books that has ever been published in his opinion.

Tom Franklin and his wife Beth Ann Fennelly were also at the book fest. I have been wanting to meet Tom Franklin for about four years and I can assure you I had a holy moment when I was able to talk with him for about five minutes. David Joy said that it was his first time meeting him as well and we were both visibly awestruck by that master of southern lit.

I had one question about the novel that had been bugging me, whenever we are near the end and Jacob texts Maggie. I wanted to know what he texted, so I asked David Joy and he said that he thought Jacob was telling her where the money was hidden and saying his final goodbye to her.

I am so looking forward to David Joy's next novel. I have the feeling that it will cement him a place in southern lit for many generations to come.


message 15: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Great review Jason !! Wish I would have been at that conference with you !!
Dawn


message 16: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (last edited May 24, 2015 06:48AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "I had one question about the novel that had been bugging me, whenever we are near the end and Jacob texts Maggie. I wanted to know what he texted, so I asked David Joy and he said that he thought Jacob was telling her where the money was hidden and saying his final goodbye to her. "

I believe that it was this act that makes the ending so sublime. (view spoiler) Jacob knew that there was no escape for himself but by his sacrifice he was able to free Maggie from a life of hopelessness and despair.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Tom wrote: "Jason wrote: "I had one question about the novel that had been bugging me, whenever we are near the end and Jacob texts Maggie. I wanted to know what he texted, so I asked David Joy and he said tha..."

Amen my friend. It was so perfectly bittersweet. I have not read such a meaningful ending in a very long time.


message 18: by Eden (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eden | 4 comments I'm so excited that he already has another book planned for release!!

Didn't the cop get the money though? That's how I interpreted it.


message 19: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Eden wrote: "Didn't the cop get the money though? That's how I interpreted it."

There was one stack of cash remaining. If I remember correctly Joy had described earlier what the value of each stack was worth.


message 20: by Eden (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eden | 4 comments Awww shucks! I'll have to re-read it! I got it from the library. I interpreted it as the cop (forget his name) took it all except one to rub it in Jacobs face.

I like the idea of even a darker ending by Maggie not ending up with the money, but it's cool that Joy left that "open to interpretation" at least to some degree.


message 21: by Eden (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eden | 4 comments Awww shucks! I'll have to re-read it! I got it from the library. I interpreted it as the cop (forget his name) took it all except one to rub it in Jacobs face.

I like the idea of even a darker ending by Maggie not ending up with the money, but it's cool that Joy left that "open to interpretation" at least to some degree.


message 22: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Eden wrote: "I interpreted it as the cop (forget his name) took it all except one to rub it in Jacobs face. "

I'm sure that at the very least that was his intention. More likely he figured to use the cash as Jacob's motive for killing his father.


April (april_s_hall) | 2 comments It was so perfectly bittersweet. I have not read such a meaningful ending in a very long time. ..."

Perfectly said, Jason.

If I was asked to describe this book in one word, bittersweet would be it.


message 24: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy | 54 comments This was my first official Trail read and even though I didn't quite love it I thought it was a very good first novel. The ending bumped my rating from 3 stars to 4. I thought the ending was realistic and unexpected. I don't personally know any meth dealers (I hope) but I doubt they are prone to happy endings. The voice/language/dialect didn't really ring true to me. I also listened to the audio and didn't think the narrator had the accent quite right but that's a minor complaint.


message 25: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Joy, the voice/language/dialect was the sole reason I rated this book a 3. It didn't ring true for me either, though I thought it was a great story. He's an author with promise, that's for sure.


message 26: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy | 54 comments I agree. I'm looking forward to his next book.


Jacki Nelson | 3 comments I just started it last night . . . . . . . . intriguing but admit that the language lowers its rating at this point.


message 28: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Jacki wrote: "I just started it last night . . . . . . . . intriguing but admit that the language lowers its rating at this point."

Other people have said that but I don't understand it. By language, are you referring to profanity or to an anachronistic use if the English language by a high school dropout?


message 29: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy | 54 comments Tom, I didn't have a problem with the profanity - I thought that was realistic but to me Jacob's thoughts/words seemed to be the thoughts/words of the author (young, well-educated, well-read, English major) instead of the Jacob's character (stoned, meth-dealing, high school drop-out). I hope that makes sense.


message 30: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
I agree with Joy, these people did not talk like uneducated, isolated mountain people. Rather the voice of the author intruded into the dialogue, and it did not ring true.


message 31: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (last edited Jun 02, 2015 07:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Joy wrote: " I hope that makes sense. "

Perfectly. I just needed clarification of which meaning of I have a problem with the language that you were using. It hadn't occurred to me but I'm sure you are right. In fact, you can add to that the problem with his behavior. How likely is it that someone with his upbringing would have the sense or right and wrong that Jacob apparently did?


message 32: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy | 54 comments Tom wrote: "...How likely is it that someone with his upbringing to have the sense or right and wrong that Jacob apparently did?

Very true.


message 33: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 1 comments I just watched the author discuss this book on my local public channel, here its PBS channel 8. It was an excellent interview and is posted online for those interested!Highly recommended.


message 34: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2555 comments Mod
Candace wrote: "I just watched the author discuss this book on my local public channel, here its PBS channel 8. It was an excellent interview and is posted online for those interested!Highly recommended."

Can you post a link to the interview?


message 35: by Joy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy | 54 comments Great interview! Candace, thanks for recommending.

Tom, here's the link.

http://www.azpbs.org/books/authordeta...


message 36: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Laura | 1999 comments Mod
Thanks for the link.


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