Reading Matters

Grit was not my thing until I read David Joy’s 2nd novel

No way I would ever pick up a copy of this novel were it not my job to keep up with local authors.

The cover of David Joy’s “The Weight of This World,” his second novel in two years, shows the stub end of a shabby single-wide in a patch of dry weeds. A blurb by Megan Abbott says, “A tale of exquisite grit.”

Grit is not my thing. Neither is methamphetamine or shotguns, drug dealers, briary thickets and ammo cans.

But I am thrilled I lost myself in the raw and briary thickets of this novel.

Joy, a Charlotte native who lives in Webster, is a remarkably gifted storyteller. The life he fuels into his characters is so high-test that if they are not lying face down in a pool of blood by novel’s end, they keep rambling through the mind.

Set in the wilds of Jackson County, “The Weight of This World” concerns three characters bound by loyalty and despair. Thad Broome is a combat veteran haunted by violence in Afghanistan. Aiden McCall is an orphan who watched his father blow his mother’s head off. April is Thad’s abused mother, a beaten-down beauty whom Aiden loves.

How these characters deal with their demons gives redemption a new dimension. And Joy can evermore roll out the descriptions:

“In the longest days of summer, the sun might dip its yellow face behind the peaks at seven o’clock, an invisible glob of molten orange that dripped behind the mountain, until all that was left was red, as if a drop of blood had soaked back into the earth on the other side. That lolling sometimes lasted until nine thirty before the wick extinguished into darkness.”

Joy will read at 3 p.m. Sunday at Barnes & Noble, Carolina Place. Free and open to the public.