Reading Matters

Joy’s hero must decide: stay with meth-dealing father or leave beloved mountains

The March issue of Cosmopolitan magazine lists 50 things to do this month. One is to read David Joy’s new novel, Where All Light Tends to Go, out this month from Putnam.

I was particularly interested in this book because it’s set in and around Cashiers, N.C., a town not far from a town I love -- Highlands. I dipped in and found a paragraph that made me want to read the whole book but that had as little to do with the Highlands I know as snow has to do with math.

“There were kids spilling out into the yard, most of them too drunk to stand upright as they made out with friends they’d grown up with and confessed love that would fizzle by dawn. I hoped she was there. I hoped that somewhere in the crowd Maggie was there and that she’d be happy to see me. I couldn’t have cared less about the rest of the faces. It didn’t matter if any of those old chums were alive or thrown out on some bluff for the buzzards to pick apart.”

Joy, who lives in the tiny Western North Carolina town of Webster, will read at 7 p.m., Monday, at Park Road Books. In this debut novel, 18-year-old Jacob McNeely is torn between staying with his meth-dealing father or leaving his beloved mountains forever.

Librarians across the country (LibraryReads) have voted Where All Light Tends to Go one of their favorite 10 books published this month.

Like my son Hugh Romine who named his son Townes, Joy is obsessed with the late country singer Townes Van Zandt.

Here’s what Joy told Sheldon Lee Compton, editor of the online literary magazine Revolution John:

“I’ve just never heard any other music that hits me in the gut like that, maybe a couple Blaze Foley songs, but it’s Townes’ entire oeuvre. As soon as that voice comes through the speakers, I’m alone. There’s just a sadness and grittiness and truthfulness to his music that can’t be matched. If you don’t know these things, you probably won’t get it, but his music captures how I feel most of the time. So when I was writing Where All Light Tends to Go, one of his song’s, ‘Rex’s Blues,’ became kind of the theme song of that narrator and that novel.”

WHAT: David Joy reads from Where All Light Tends to Go

WHEN: Monday at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Park Road Books, Park Road Shopping Center, 4139 Park Road, Charlotte, N.C., 28209.

COST: Free and open to the public.

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