Caught in a riptide of haphazard underemployment, at turns violent and unpredictable, suffering under a bad economy with no family or friends to speak of, Stratton Brown longs for the chance to escape his small-town past and build a new life. He sets out for Chicago, where he meets a new and fresh hell: a nine-to-fiver in a nondescript, meaningless company, and an obsessive love affair with woman who may be a bit too attached to her abusive ex-boyfriend. Is this all America has to offer its twentysomethings? He’ll soon have to figure out that beneath the gruff labor of building a new life lies the presence of something much more true: a way past his violent childhood and a new path to the American dream.
At Dawn is a literary debut of a fresh and powerful male voice in fiction.
A self-destructive young man tries to escape from a dark past and a bleak future in this workmanlike debut literary novel from Hughes. After the financial collapse, twenty-something Stratton Brown leaves New York for Chicago, seeking to rebuild his life. Determined to be a writer, Stratton finds a mentor in Gene, a gruff landlord, and falls in love with the waifish Carolyn, an abused runaway. As he struggles to land a job and salvage his future, flashbacks reveal Stratton s impoverished Ohio youth with a loving mother and a violent father whose unforgiveable crime has left deep scars. Stratton s Chicago trials invoke memories of the past, while self-pity, jealousy, and anger threaten to consume him. Hughes whose collaboration and dispute with James Frey (I Am Number Four) were detailed in New York magazine combines coming-of-age tale, portrait of the artist as a young man, and father-son saga in a well-crafted novel that is ultimately marred by a familiar plot, too-perfect characters, heavy-handed morals, and an obsessive symmetry. But offsetting these problems are pathos, wit, and insight into the relationships that define our lives.
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Interesting book about a character dealing with his past and insecurities. Keeps you interested until the last page.