What You Have Left
By Will Allison
(Free Press, Paperback, 9781416541400, 240pp.)
Publication Date: June 17, 2008
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
What You Have Left is an unforgettable story of love, loss, and, most of all, longing.
In 1976, on the day of his wife's funeral, Wylie Greer drops off his five-year-old daughter, Holly, at his father-in-law's dairy farm on the outskirts of Columbia, South Carolina. Wylie tells her he just needs a little time to clear his head, but thirty years pass before Holly sees her father again -- "time I spent wondering what I'd done to make him leave," she says, "and what I could do to make him come back."
What You Have Left is about a father and daughter trying to make their way back to one another across decades of uncertainty and ambivalence -- all the while hoping to discover that what they have left is worth salvaging. It's also the story of a grandfather bent on suicide, a pioneering female NASCAR driver, a heartbroken amnesiac, a video poker junkie, and assorted other liars, cheaters, and lovers who, despite their best intentions, never quite live up to their own expectations.
Are we doomed to repeat our parents' mistakes? Can lies save love instead of destroying it? Is letting go the same as giving up? Shot through with sly humor and a knowing sympathy for human weakness, What You Have Left takes up these and other questions as it examines the weight of history, the nature of loss, and the possibility of forgiveness. Making use of bold shifts in viewpoint and time, Allison proves a brilliant observer of the emotional legacies handed down from parent to child and the ways loss defines us. This stunning debut brims with an affection for humanity exactly as it is -- in all its ignorance and awareness, its swagger and humility, its despair and hope.
Will Allison’s debut novel, What You Have Left, was selected for Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers, Borders Original Voices, and Book Sense Picks, and was named one of 2007’s notable books by the San Francisco Chronicle. His short stories have appeared in magazines such as Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, and One Story and have received special mention in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the former executive editor of Story. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, he now lives with his wife and daughter in New Jersey. Learn more about Will Allison at www.willallison.com.