Tony Earley is a writer so good at his craft that you don't read his words so much as inhale them. His first book of nonfiction is one of those unexpected classics, like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, in which a great writer rips open his or her heart and takes the reader inside for a no-holds-barred tour. Born thirty-nine years ago, Earley was too late to be a Baby Boomer, too soon to be a Gen Xer. Although he grew up in the North Carolina mountains, he says "I go around telling anyone who will listen that I am from the country, but deep down I know it's a lie. I grew up on Gilligan's Island, in Mayberry, I'm not sure where."
Tony Earley's view of the world is from the edge, at the cusp. Which
is what this collection of personal essays is about-about how he stands with one foot in the rural mountains and the other in the Brady Bunch's split-level, about how he's neither an adherent to the fundamentalist Christianity of his boyhood nor an unbeliever, and about how hard it
is to find your place in the world without letting go of all you came from, without letting go of your authenticity.
In a prose style that is deceptively simple (E. B. White comes to mind), Earley confronts the big things-God, death, civilization, family, his own clinical depression-with wit and grace, without looking away or smirking. Earley has clearly lost patience with irony, for his is a journey from faith, through disbelief, and into a new faith . . . and a new family.