The Weight of This World by David Joy

Aiden McCall, orphaned at age twelve, is soon taken in by his buddy Thad Broom, andweight the two grow up inseparable, albeit in an unusual circumstance.  They live in a trailer down the hill from Thad’s mother’s house.  Thad basically got kicked out by his stepfather, and he fends for himself.  His mother is distant to him.

Flash forward to when the two are twenty-four.  Thad has finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan; he’s a damaged soul with a messed up back and too many memories of the front.  Aiden has spent most of his young adulthood committing petty crimes and riding the pre-recession building boom in their corner of western North Carolina.  Of course, the jobs are largely gone, and Aiden and Thad eke it out filching copper from the shells of unfinished houses and doing an occasional drug deal.

A chance visit with their local meth dealer finds our two friends witnessing a horrible accident that leaves them with a serious stash and more money than either have seen in years.

For Aiden, this windfall, ill-fortuned as it is for some, is the ticket out of their dead-end town.  If only it were this easy.  As it is, Thad has the gift of gab when he’s on a meth bender, so too many other people become interested in what the two have.

Interwoven with Aiden and Thad’s stories is that of April, Thad’s mother, who still has the house up the hill and has her own dreams of leaving.  She has always carried an internal burden that has kept her cold to her son.  It’s ironic that she and Aiden have been intimate since before Thad got back from the army.  The two men are still the best of friends, but this affair is certainly a friction point.

The Weight of This World is hardcore grit lit, a tale of woe in which nothing is a clear-cut choice.  Our heroes, as they were, are beat-up and doomed people who wish for better things than fate is willing to give them.  I found the book a sad but well-written read.

This is the second novel by David Joy; read his first (Where All Light Tends to Go).  It’s perhaps even grittier than this one.

Fans of Daniel Woodrell and Ron Rash – take note.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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