• Anne Leigh Parrish
  • [SWP: Behind the Book] The Story Behind The Stories in Our Love Could Light The World.
[SWP: Behind the Book] The Story Behind The Stories in Our Love Could Light The World.

Our Love Could Light The World is a collection of twelve linked short stories about a sloppy, unorganized, yet endearing family, the Dugans. The book begins with the final story in my first collection, All The Roads That Lead From Home (Press 53, 2011). After bringing this family to the page, I decided to spend more time with them. They made sense to me, were easy both to relate to and to root for. In fact, I've never gotten along so well with any cast of characters, which made writing this book almost effortless.

What also helped the relative ease of writing was location. While the name of the town, Dunston, is purely fictional, many people will know pretty soon that I'm really talking about Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. I grew up there. Though it's been a very long time since I claimed it as home, I've been back frequently over the last few years to visit my aging and ailing father, who died in 2012. The town I conjure in my book isn't exactly they way Ithaca is today, but the way it once was, very small, surrounded by country, with a clear division between "town and gown," the locals and Cornell University.

The Dugans are locals. They have the usual problems that come from alcohol and little income. The five children are under the charge of the eldest, a sour-natured overweight girl named Angie. Her mother, Lavinia, is the only one who works since Angie's father, Potter, was hurt on the job some years before. One day Lavinia has enough, and moves in with her boss, an older man and a widower, who's very well off.

As the years pass, the Dugans face a number of challenges as they adjust to their new circumstances. Lavinia, Angie, and Potter's sister, Patty, emerge as the three central characters. Lavinia loses interest in her new husband; Angie outgrows her sullen disposition and finds a useful life, and Patty, though always tough in both love and conflict, shows a softer side.

This book represents my continuing use and exploration of the omniscient point of view. I drop down into the heads of a number of different characters, underscoring that the book's overall narrative arc doesn't follow the life of any one person more closely than another. That's not to say that some characters aren't dominant, it's just that everyone has a chance to be heard.

I'm proud of the following review statements:

"A successful collage of linked stories set in a rich, dysfunctional world." – Kirkus Reviews

"Realistic, sure-handed, darkly humorous, and perfectly spare." – What She Read, a blog about books.

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  • Thanks for sharing this, Anne. It's been such a pleasure to see the great reviews rolling in.