David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction.
From Joy's Q & A with Bradley Sides of Novel Enthusiasts:
NE: Your story about a teenager who struggles to pick his path is one with which, I think, most people can relate. Although Jacob has the added dangers of drugs, violence, poverty, and general brutality, do you think his story is, at least at its core, like any other teenager’s who is approaching adulthood?Writers Read: David Joy.
DJ: Jacob’s is definitely a coming-of-age story, but it’s just that coming of age where he’s from doesn’t much make a damn. Jacob is from a place where circumstance governs maturity. Hard lives tend to grow up fast, and he’s had a tough row to hoe. But as far as there being a universality to that age, I think that seems to be one of the most pivotal times in life, that moment when you’re not really a grown up but you’re no longer a child, and so that period works really well to create conflict. The Catcher in the Rye wouldn’t be what it is if Holden Caulfield were any older. Jacob’s idealization of Maggie and his overall naivety for much of what’s going on around him are very much tied to that I-know-it-all-but-I-know-nothing reality of an eighteen-year-old kid. I had one reader tell me that he thought Jacob was an unreliable narrator, though it wasn’t a matter of Jacob being purposefully dishonest, but rather he was simply unable to fully grasp what was going on around him. I think that’s absolutely right, and that’s very much a characteristic of that age. Being a teenager is hard. Any adult who tells you differently has simply forgotten.
NE: I think Jacob is really dynamic, and for the record, I think he’s one of 2015’s great literary characters. He isn’t necessarily a bad person, but he’s also not really a good one either. He struggles. He accomplishes. He fights. He flees. He hesitates. He does. He is very real to me. Do you think Jacob is likeable or, at the very least, sympathetic?
DJ: I don’t necessarily want a reader to feel sympathetic for Jacob, but I do want them to...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Where All Light Tends to Go.
My Book, The Movie: Where All Light Tends to Go.