What Dies in Summer Paperback – 3 May 2012
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"A beautifully written and deeply engaging study of loss and innocence, suffused with chilling dread. A haunting novel, a captivating debut, I loved it." (S.J WATSON, author of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP)
"Compulsive and provocative . . . A narrative voice that's raw and desperate, a story that grips from start to finish, What Dies In Summer is hugely impressive." (JOHN BOYNE, author of THE BOY WITH THE STRIPED PYJAMAS and THE ABSOLUTIST)
"A magnificent novel, not so much about loss of innocence as innocence put through the masher. The story pulsates with a deep dread that would be unbearable if the novel weren't so sweet, funny, sexy and ultimately moving." (NICK CAVE, author of THE DEATH OF BUNNY MUNRO)
"An erotic, compelling and deeply assured debut, midway between Ellroy and Faulkner. It evokes so precisely the beauty and sadness of first love and lost innocence." (Sam Taylor, author of THE REPUBLIC OF TREES)
"Builds upon the framework of the conventional modern thriller to fashion something that is much, much more - an exploration of adolescence under the extra pressure of family dysfunction caused by drunkenness and relationship breakdown" (John Harding Daily Mail)
"A moving exploration of the vulnerability of youth, and of tangled family relationships" (Laura Wilson Guardian)
"What Dies in Summeris an unsettling novel about the loss of innocence, the betrayal that passes down the generations" (Kate Saunders The Times)
"What Dies in Summer's charm lies in the way it is sharp and precise about what Biscuit sees and hears, while remaining elusive about everything else... these puzzles contribute significantly to the novel's potency, as they turn you into another Biscuit, restlessly trying to work things out" (John Dugdale The Sunday Times)
"Superb, practically flawless debut novel about small-town murders and a boy detective's summer of love" (Sunday Times)
"A leisurely paced, beautifully, lyrically written and moving coming-of-age novel... Wright uses this warm palate to paint a darkly rich tale of magic-realism" (Mean Streets)
A stunning literary thriller with the debut promise of S. J. Watson and the taut coming-of-age drama of Stephen King's Stand by Me. This will appeal to fans of intelligent, psychological thriller books like Donna Tartt's The Secret History and Kate Atkinson's Case Histories.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Our two heroes are at that age just on the cusp of adulthood where anything seems possible, yet terrifying at the same time. Writing about people at this age can either be contrived or enchanting and here it is spot on. Despite a few skeletons in their familial closet, some of which are pretty large it has to be said, their lives seem fairly ordinary, or maybe that's just their way of looking at things. Their gran (known as Gram), who they both live with is an enigmatic, wise woman and beautifully drawn by the author.
I won't give any of the story away as this one deserves to gently unfold to each reader as the author intended, but we have aspects of the supernatural - whether you actually believe it's real or not is up to you, dark humour, horror and some genuinely touching scenes, particularly between Jim and his girlfriend Diana. Short, choppy chapters keep the pace moving well as we accompany these two troubled souls on the way to adulthood and the quest they must undertake one hot summer...
And there are plenty of shadows cast over Biscuit, a teenage boy who lives with his grandmother. His father is dead and his mother is shacked up with a violent thug. And then his cousin arrives in a state of distress, not saying why she has run away from home.
As the sweltering, hazy summer stretches out to snapping point, we find out more about Biscuit, L.A. and their fragile adolescent world. And the secrets that have been pushed into the darkness are jolted into the glare of light when they discover the body of a murdered teenage girl.
And what dies in the summer is, of course, innocence.
Tom Wight`s What Dies In Summer is a leisurely paced, beautifully, lyrically written and moving coming-of-age novel, cleverly told from Biscuits oblique perspective. Wright uses this warm palate to paint a darkly rich tale of magic-realism with echoes of Laughton's take on Night Of the Hunter and Donna Tartt's The Little Secret.
With stories of abuse, violence, incest, alcoholism, mutilation, suicide, murder, second sight - every possible element of Southern gothic has been crammed into this book, and no-one is left untouched. And yet, the plot itself is also too simple and uncomplicated - the perpetrator is obvious, and it seems unbelievable that it takes the whole book for anyone else to realise this. And when they do, it's through a flash of inspiration which leads them to oh so luckily catch the criminal red-handed in the middle of another crime...
There are good elements here: the atmospheric writing, the touching voice of Biscuit, but it's all drowning in too much of everything. More restraint, a less-is-more approach would serve Wright well, and give more space for his undoubted strengths to take centre space and shine.
Biscuit and his cousin LA, live with their grandmother, both families broken by abuse and violence. You do begin to wonder if every family in Oak Cliff has an abusive father; a dark-vein of incest and violence runs through the narrative, binding the disparate themes together.
The language is rich and lush and heavily descriptive; perfectly pitched for this tale set across one long, hot, humid southern summer. The language is the best of it; the plot is decidedly thin, loosely knit around the killings and abuse. The story wanders all over the place and never seems to get to the point. I still don't really understand about the trip to Minnesota, it doesn't help develop the characters and it doesn't advance the story at all, the revelations it supported could as easily have come over a cup of coffee in the kitchen. It had no apparent purpose other than to broaden the scope and pad out the plot and the plot didn't really need padding, what the plot needed was more focus and direction. It's why I couldn't love this book.
The writing is undoubtedly gorgeous but it needs more to hang on. A good sub plot would have done the trick and there was a stab at one, in Biscuit's psychic flashes and the sudden appearance of the shaman woman, but neither were developed or went anywhere.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Expecting little, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. It reminded me in places of classic American literature. Not your average serial killer yarn by any stretch. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Empi
This book is told in a very authentic voice, the author being a boy growing up in a small town US environment. Read morePublished on 9 Feb. 2014 by R. Lawson
What a brilliant read, I couldn't put it down, literally sat up all night reading this. It's got lots to offer in terms of crime, drama, family secrets, coming of age angst and... Read morePublished on 23 Jan. 2014 by L. Thompson
I would describe this book as a slow burner, it is very well written but rather slow paced and I think some readers will struggle to stick with it. Read morePublished on 9 Jan. 2014 by Nikki
I enjoyed this book very much. It is exceptionally well written for a first novel and it held me engrossed throughout. Read morePublished on 2 Jan. 2014 by Sid Nuncius
In Texas, teenager James (Biscuit) is deeply troubled - disturbing dreams, general foreboding, increasing sexual awareness, doubts about the very meaning of life. Read morePublished on 28 Nov. 2013 by Mr. D. L. Rees
Jim Beaudry is better know as Biscuit. Biscuit gets flashes of visions or disturbing dreams where a dead girl is standing beside his bed. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2013 by ireadnovels
It was impossible to put this book down once I got into it. The thrilling nature of the book meant that there was always something happening and the language created sympathy for... Read morePublished on 6 Aug. 2013 by shauna roberts
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think it is up there within the top 10 of my ultimate escapism books.
The way everything is represented in this book is brilliant. Read more