Synopses & Reviews
By an award-winning writer of short fiction, a devastatingly powerful debut novel of hero-worship, first love, and betrayal
Justin Bailey is seventeen when he arrives at the shop of legendary muscle car mechanic Nick Campbell. Anguished and out of place among the students at his rural Connecticut high school, Justin finds in Nick, his captivating wife Mary Ann, and their world of miraculous machines the sense of family he has struggled to find at home. But when Nick and Mary Ann's lives are struck by tragedy, Justin's own world is upended. Suddenly Nick, once celebrated for his mechanical genius, has lost his touch. Mary Ann, once tender and compassionate to her husband, has turned distant. As Justin tries to support his suffering mentor, he finds himself drawn toward the man's grieving wife. Torn apart by feelings of betrayal, Justin must choose between the man he admires more than his own father and the woman he yearns for. A poignant and fiercely original debut, with moments of fast-paced suspense, Wayne Harrison's The Spark and The Drive is the unforgettable story of a young man forced to make an impossible decision — no matter the consequences.
"There's nothing I enjoy more than entering a fictional world over which an author demonstrates complete mastery. That's exactly what Wayne Harrison offers his lucky readers in The Spark and the Drive." Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
"Young men will always idolize the father substitutes who promise them a way out of the familiar. Ever volatile, such relationships fuel some of our best literature, and to this category we must now add Wayne Harrison's gorgeous and grittily poetic debut novel. Set in an auto shop in working class Connecticut at the end of the golden age of the American muscle car, The Spark and the Drive has all the horsepower and headlong beauty of the extraordinary machines at its center." Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
"Told with equal parts grit and tenderness, The Spark and the Drive follows the dangers, thrills, and twists of fate that make one boy into a man and lead him to the painful discovery that love and loyalty can't always be reconciled. A piercing and stylish debut." Maggie Shipstead, New York Times bestselling author of Seating Arrangements
"Wayne Harrison knows, like no one I've ever read before, how to describe what goes on underneath the hood of a car. But more, much more, he knows what goes underneath our skins. He knows all about our deepest desires and what well do to attain them. The Spark and the Drive is as intense and well- written a love story as you'll find. Ill be in the grip of Justin's — and Mary Ann's — story for months to come." Peter Orner, award-winning author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge
About the Author
Wayne Harrison is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop whose stories have appeared in The Atlantic, McSweeneys, Ploughshares, and Narrative Magazine. One of his stories was selected for Best American Short Stories 2010 and his fiction has been featured on NPRs All Things Considered. His short story collection Wrench was a finalist for the Iowa Book Award, the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award, and the Spokane Prize. He teaches writing at Oregon State University.