I am the light of this world A novel

Michael Parker, 1959-

Book - 2022

"In the early 1970s, in Stovall, Texas, seventeen-year-old Earl--a loner, dreamer, lover of music and words--meets Tina, the new girl in town. Tina convinces Earl to drive her to see her mother in Austin, where Earl and Tina are quickly separated. Two days later, Earl is being questioned by the police about Tina's disappearance and the blood in the trunk of his car. But Earl can't remember what happened in Austin, and with little financial support from his working-class famil...y, he is sentenced for a crime he did not commit. Forty years later, Earl is released into a world he can barely navigate. Settling in a small town on the Oregon coast, he attempts to establish a sense of freedom from both bars and razor wire and the emotional toll of incarceration. But just as Earl finds the rhythm he's always sought, his past returns to endanger the new life he's built"--Book jacket flap.

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Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, an imprint of Workman Publishing Co., Inc [2022]
First edition
Physical Description
289 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Michael Parker, 1959- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Poor, white, and generally ignored, 17-year-old Earl likes to sit in the woods reading Lead Belly: His Life and Times; he loves music and can feel sounds, number one being pedal steel. When he falls for bird of a feather, Tina, a newcomer to their tiny Texas town, there's no question he'll do anything she asks, including take her to Austin to visit her mother, locked in an asylum. To say the trip goes awry is an understatement. Next thing he knows, police are telling him Tina, whose name isn't Tina, is missing and questioning him about blood in his car as he pieces together the hazy intervening days. After the 44 years Earl spends in the "in-between" pass without a page, part two begins with him attempting to start over in Oregon. Always more out of place than in it, Earl is a singular invention who perceives singularity all around him. Combining literary, domestic, and suspenseful elements, Parker (Prairie Fever, 2019) is a writer of poetic, synesthetic description, artfully cerebral dialogue, and a wholly channeled protagonist.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Parker (Prairie Fever) traces in this frank if uneven outing the harrowing journey of an east Texas man who attempts to build a new life after serving a 40-year prison sentence. One night in 1973 Smyrna, Tex., 17-year-old Earl Boudreaux attends a wild, druggy party. The night turns hazy: there's an orgy Earl scarcely remembers, and a drug dealer tries to rape Tina, the woman Earl's in love with, then murders her. In short order, Earl, whose car is coated with Tina's blood, is arrested and convicted for murder. Upon his release in 2018, Earl receives a large sum of money bequeathed by his lawyer which enables him to make a fresh start in Cliffside, Ore., where, after staying in a motel and struggling to lead a normal life, he finds a place to live and a new set of friends, all the while concealing his history until another fateful mistake brings his past to light. While the author aptly conveys Earl's quotidian challenges post-incarceration, the book is marred by thinly developed characters, particularly in the first half covering Earl's teen years. It's not bad, but other authors have done much more with stories of false convictions. Agent: Joy Harris, The Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Nov.)

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