Take one small Arkansas town and add one unusual woodpecker and you have the Sufjan Stevens song “The Lord God Bird.” You also have a quirky new novel by John Corey Whaley. Where Things Come Back is about second chances and the search for meaning. It’s part mystery, part coming-of-age novel that explores small town dynamics with astute sarcasm. Publisher’s Weekly named John Corey Whaley a Spring 2011 Flying Start author. PW had this to say about the book in their starred review:
“The portentous tone and flat affect of Whaley’s writing is well-suited to the story’s religious themes and symbolism (Gabriel, the Lazarus woodpecker, the apocryphal Book of Enoch), as Whaley gradually brings the story’s many threads together in a disturbing, heartbreaking finale that retains a touch of hope.”
In addition to being inspired by Sufjan, Whaley wrote with a motto in mind: “How does one grow up in an impossible world?”
A song and a question in the hands of a promising debut author have created a captivating novel. I recommend the book and the song.