Caught in a riptide of haphazard underemployment, at turns violent and unpredictable and 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 while falling headlong into an obsessive love affair with a woman he believes 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 the literary debut of a fresh and powerful male voice in fiction.
Hughes’ debut novel, At Dawn, follows a former All-American wrestler, and is there any better metaphor for contemporary American life? We’re all wrestling, tussling with the economy, no jobs, doing the best we can. Hughes doesn’t flinch from the tough existential questions. He embraces them.
At Dawn is the brave, rare sort of novel that finds extraordinary meaning in ordinary lives. The characters are beautifully complex, honorable and compassionate, and yet, like so many of us, deeply flawed and emotionally scarred. The writing is clean and sharp and vivid, and in reading Jobie Hughes I’m reminded of the tremendous power of simple honesty in storytelling. This is a fine book by a fine writer.
A coming-of-age story for boozy 20-somethings.
Hughes combines coming-of-age tale, portrait of the artist as a young man, and father-son saga in a well-crafted novel.