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Lighting the World Paperback – March 16, 2015
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About the Author
A native of Northern New England, Merle Drown has written stories, essays, plays, reviews, and two novels, Plowing Up a Snake and The Suburbs of Heaven. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Hampshire Arts Council and teaches in Southern New Hampshire University's M.F.A. program. The father of three sons, he lives with his wife Teresa Ceballos in Concord, New Hampshire, and Toronto
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Drown's sensitive portrait of Wade, and our sympathy for him, is heightened as we listen to his thoughts, and watch him fall in love with a kindred spirit--a young girl named Maria--someone who has her own set of horrors to deal with. Both bond and in their desire to hatch a "way out" of the misery, we follow along and want them to succeed. After he has us rooting for these two truly beautiful kids, Drown accelerates well beyond the speed limit, coupling stark image upon image until circumstances begin to compound and tumble over each other to an inevitability that he has laid groundwork for from the beginning.
It's easy to draw conclusions about sensational news that presents only hard and naked facts. It's another matter entirely, to make sense out of something that doesn't seem to make any sense at all. Lighting The World gives us an inside look at the logic behind something illogical. It's a compelling piece of writing--a piece of fiction drawn from fact, that slices deep into the flesh to expose the underside of "the other half."
Drown's prose and characterizations embody the best elements of Southern Gothic with a Northern sensibility. Rule's obsession with Maria recalls Faulkner's Benjy and Caddy in The Sound and the Fury, while the peripheral characters, as viewed through Wade's eyes, harken to the grotesques of Flannery O'Connor.
Merle Drown provides unique insight into a small-town tragedy. His storytelling never asks the reader to sympathize with or forgive Wade, although at times they may feel compelled to do so. There is something universal in Wade's struggles that everyone can identify with in some sense or another. Lighting The World is a compelling novel that you will be unable to put down. Or forget.
“Lighting the World” is Drown’s attempt to shed light on a real-life tragedy, a school shooting in Concord, N.H. a month before that same school lost a favorite teacher in the space-shuttle Challenger disaster. Lost in the crowd well before he died, the real boy behind Wade Rule was buried even further in the school’s collective mind as it grieved the hero teacher.
Drown’s powerful, almost tactile prose successfully exhumes him, putting a face on the boy that, while fictional, fits. Wade breathes and bleeds and aches with love felt and wanted. More than anything else, though, Wade wants to be needed, to matter.
Wade’s prized possession is the shotgun he used to take his first deer, an action that Wade believes opened the door to manhood, When he finds himself barred from stepping through that door -- by school, by his parents -- he turns to the gun again, and when your only tool is a gun, every problem starts to look like something to shoot.
Wade is a lost boy, representative I think, of the many lost children out there. The ones who join gangs, or ISIS, or father illegitimate children, or join the military (likely the healthiest of these options), thinking it’s the only way they will ever count. Unlike those nameless millions, though, Wade Rule -- thanks to author Drown -- has a face we can see. Read this book then pass it to your sons.
Drown creates a rich backdrop of character and setting that flows brilliantly from beginning to end. It's a difficult story at times, with main character Wade encountering many hard situations as a teenage boy. This is a chilling read that rewards all the way to the shocking end.
Drown doesn't hold back when telling this story, allowing the characters to fully develop in a way that makes the reader feel. This is much more than a book about a teenager looking to find himself. This is a story that everyone can relate to. Drown truly lights the world with this bold novel.