Today I have a guest post written by author Grant Jarrett! I’m so excited! Here is a bit of info about Grant, then his guest article.
About Grant Jarrett: Grant Jarrett grew up in Northwestern Pennsylvania and currently lives in Manhattan, where he works as a writer, musician, and songwriter. He has written for magazines including FOW and Triathlon, and is the author of More Towels, a coming-of-age memoir about life on the road. He is an avid cyclist and a reasonable competent flosser. Ways of Leaving is his first novel.
Ways of Leaving by Grant Jarrett (AMZ link –
Chase Stoller’s life is crumbling. He just lost his job, his wife Jennifer has filed for divorce, and now his brother Aaron wants him to return to Pennsylvania and help care for their ailing father.
When he arrives at his brother’s house, years of repressed rage float to the surface—along with two married women, one virtual church, several bottles of scotch, one schizophrenic sister, five helpings of Brussels sprouts, three boxes of purloined panties, and a gun-wielding husband with a grudge. But Chase’s greatest challenge comes when his sister attempts to end her life.
Infused with empathy and compassion, bristling with humor, Ways of Leaving explores the impulses and actions of a troubled man whose struggles with isolation, despair and desire illuminate the fierce yearning for a sense of purpose that characterizes the human condition.
Now a few words from Grant:
I’ve noticed that every time I corner an unsuspecting stranger at a bar, a party, or in a public restroom and I’m mysteriously compelled to mention my novel, Ways of Leaving, I’m faced with the same question: “Why don’t you go bother someone else?” But on those occasions when I’m able to block my victim’s exit for a minute or two, a second, more interesting question emerges: “What is your book about?” Although this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask, it is not so easy to answer.
I could say that Chase, my novel’s difficult-to-like protagonist, is a wreck. A firing, a divorce and a dying father would be a challenge for an emotionally healthy man. For Chase, who uses sex and alcohol to obscure his emotional pain, it’s a disaster. To add to his burden, his sister is severely mentally ill and he’s still carrying around a moving van-full of childhood baggage.
And so Chase acts out and screws up and growls and drinks while his sister wastes away, unable to connect with or comfort him. Chase fights with his narcissistic brother, tries to develop a relationship with his niece and nephew, looks for love, lashes out at strangers, and between self-destructive acts does everything he can to help the sister he loves. This is some of what happens in my novel. But it isn’t what the book is about.
What my book is about, what any good book is about is more than the events, the plot, or even the story. If I could explain in a few sentences or paragraphs what that is, I wouldn’t have spent the last three years writing this novel. I would have done something constructive, like braiding my eyebrows or teaching my imaginary goldfish Carl to twerk.
I suppose I could tell these bleary-eyed strangers that Ways of Leaving is about the very human need to connect, and about the things we do in our desperation when we feel so alienated and alone that even our own emotions are cryptic and inaccessible. I could, but who would buy a book about that? Would you? How about if I buy you a drink and tell you about it?