Michael Parker, I Am the Light of this World
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 family, 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.
Steeped in the music and atmosphere of the 1970s, I Am the Light of This World is a gritty, gripping, and gorgeously written story of loss, redemption, and the power of the imagination, perfect for fans of Ron Rash, Rachel Kushner, and Laird Hunt.
“A heart-wrenching story compounded by misguided decisions and bad luck, Earl’s life could form the basis of the blues songs he and Arthur so loved.”―Library Journal
“I Am the Light of this World is a grimy, gutsy, glorious, novel and one of my favorite books in recent memory. Somehow, Michael Parker channeled the ghosts of Kent Haruf and Harry Crews (the good angel and the bad) to write this literary gem which is as lowdown and gritty as it is graceful and profound. An unforgettable novel that sings out on every page.”―Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs and Godspeed
“A gut punch of a novel — lyrical, mordantly funny, and wrenching.”―Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
“From the opening sentence on, I was transfixed, locked into the phonic level of Earl’s world and somehow magically both rooted and flying. I don’t know how Michael Parker does it. There is the rhythm of the sentences and the deep attention to sensory details but there is also something even more ineffable going on here. This novel is incredible. Read it! Read it! Read it!”―Mesha Maren, author of Perpetual West