WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Debut Fiction - JON ARLAN

Kevin Cata­lano, Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing (OC­TO­BER), Hard­cover $24.99 (304pp), 978-1-5107-2199-9 This novel is as com­pelling as it is bit­ter, tragic, and heartrend­ing. In the first grip­ping, gut-wrench­ing scenes of Kevin Cata­lano’s darkly beau­ti­ful Where the Sun

Shines Out, a kid­nap­ping un­folds with clock­work ef­fi­ciency and ter­ri­ble, far-reach­ing reper­cus­sions.

It is the sum­mer of 1992. Ten-year-old Dean Fleming and his younger brother, Ja­son, at­tend an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of The Wiz­ard of

Oz. Left alone for a mo­ment, they are ab­ducted. Dean man­ages to es­cape alive; his brother does not.

Over twenty-five years and with a half-dozen ma­jor and mi­nor char­ac­ters, Cata­lano weaves to­gether a raw, com­plex por­trait of a steel town reel­ing not only from the mur­der-kid­nap­ping, but from a steady so­cial and eco­nomic col­lapse. Poverty, creep­ing like rust, is all around in this deeply felt lit­er­ary thriller.

Ten years later, Dean is an an­gry, lonely, frus­trated man bent on in­flict­ing pain on his only friend. Bru­tal­ity and ten­der­ness are knot­ted tightly to­gether in this story: fa­thers hurt sons, friends hurt friends, hus­bands hurt wives, ev­ery­one dis­ap­points ev­ery­one.

Ad­dic­tion—es­pe­cially opi­ate ad­dic­tion—is also cen­tral to their lives. Cata­lano’s de­pic­tion of drug abuse and ad­dic­tion is com­pas­sion­ate and hon­est, lyri­cal yet ut­terly un­sen­ti­men­tal. “One drug brought the sun,” he writes when Dean mixes speed with heroin, “and the other made it siz­zle.”

The prospects are ter­ri­bly bleak for these char­ac­ters—even Hen­der­son Lovely, the last sur­viv­ing munchkin from the Oz film, makes an ap­pear­ance as a sad, bro­ken old man. Some will no doubt find Cata­lano’s gloomy char­ac­ters and plot points too heavy, but the writ­ing car­ries the story through the years with­out let­ting go of the hope that these lives can some­how right them­selves.

“The ma­jor­ity of his ex­is­tence had been like a rusty plow scour­ing the earth wher­ever he went, ru­in­ing those he came in con­tact with,” the nar­ra­tor says of the main char­ac­ter. Still, he’s striv­ing for re­demp­tion—like ev­ery­one else—and his path is as com­pelling as it is bit­ter, tragic, and heartrend­ing.

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