Lonesome Lies Before Us: A Novel
If you’ve ever driven an old back road late at night, alt-country on the radio, stars twinkling mournfully down on your aimlessness, then you’ve felt what Don Lee manages to capture in Lonesome Lies Before Us. Lee’s protagonist, Yadin Park, has never been a household name, but his music has been balm to the aches and sorrows of his fans over the years. His poignant lyrics and near paralyzing stage fright, coupled with a ghostlike disappearance from the music scene, have turned him into a myth. The trouble is, he may be just that much a ghost in his own life, too.
In Lee’s novel, a writer and musician struggles with the loss of one of his most profound possessions: his hearing. How this impacts Yadin is both literal—he struggles to hear the notes as he once did—and figurative in that he often can’t hear the truth being spoken by those who care for him. His girlfriend, Jeanette, herself a victim to lost love, as well his boss, Joe, try to help him settle into a world that seems foreign, but he swims against the current, aided by his old love Mallory Wicks’ sudden appearance in Yadin’s hometown of Rosarita Bay, CA.
At times the novel is a love letter to singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons, Blaze Foley, and Steve Earle. At other turns it is a meditation on what it means to let go of something you love because you can’t handle the immensity or your responsibility to it. As Yadin tries to find himself through music, faith, and ruminations on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, readers are drawn to question their own lives, what they love and what they are willing to let go. Lonesome Lies Before Us is a brilliant novel that does what great books have always done: it makes us see ourselves in a new way.
W. W. Norton & Company