Fire Exit

A Novel

ISBN:
9781959030553
Pub Date:
06/04/2024
List Price:
$28.95
Page Count:
256
ISBN:
9781959030638
Pub Date:
06/04/2024
List Price:
$28.95
Page Count:
256

“Utterly consuming. . . . Fire Exit absolutely smolders.”—Tommy Orange

The blood that came out of me was blood that ran through her veins. It’s strange: all bloodlooks the same, yet it’s different, we’re told, in so many various ways and for so many various reasons. But one thing is for certain, I thought: you are who you are, even if you don’t know it.

From the porch of his home, Charles Lamosway has watched the life he might have had unfold across the river on Maine’s Penobscot Reservation. On the far bank, he caught brief moments of his neighbor Elizabeth’s life—from the day she came home from the hospital to her early twenties. But there’s always been something deeper and more dangerous than the river that divides him from her and the rest of the tribal community. It’s the secret that Elizabeth is his daughter, a secret Charles is no longer willing to keep.

Now, it’s been weeks since he’s seen Elizabeth, and Charles is worried. As he attempts to hold on to and care for what he can—his home and property; his alcoholic, quick-tempered, and bighearted friend Bobby; and his mother, Louise, who is slipping ever deeper into dementia—he becomes increasingly haunted by his past. Forced to confront a lost childhood on the reservation, a love affair cut short, and the death of his beloved stepfather, Fredrick, in a hunting accident—a death he and Louise are at odds over as to where to lay blame—Charles contends with questions he’s long been afraid to ask. Is his secret about Elizabeth his to share? And would his daughter want to know the truth, even if it could cost her everything she’s ever known?

From the award-winning author of Night of the Living Rez, Morgan Talty’s debut novel, Fire Exit, is a masterful and unforgettable story of family, legacy, bloodlines, culture and inheritance, and what, if anything, we owe one another.

Praise

  • In this deliberately paced, moody novel, Talty, himself a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, considers questions of identity.”

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Tender and heartbreaking. . . . sweetened with touches of humor, the novel raises important questions about human connection and belonging.

    —Booklist, Starred Review

  • Absolutely soars. . . . you will come out of this book better than you were going in.

    —Barnes & Noble, A Most Anticipated Debut of 2024

  • Utterly absorbing. . . . compassionately addresses tough choices in matters of family and love.

    —Shelf Awareness

  • Fire Exit, Morgan Talty’s debut novel, is utterly consuming. With this book, Talty more than fulfills the promise of his glorious short story collection, Night of the Living Rez. The storytelling is both spellbinding and quietly devastating. The novel is ultimately about family and belonging, about the stories we need to know even when they threaten to burn our lives down. A father desperately wants to let his daughter know about her body’s secret history, even while his mother forgets her son altogether. This book is filled with humor, and humanity’s strange wonder at its own desperation and depravity, as only Talty can do, with his subtle charm and crystalline prose, his sober reckoning with what love can and cannot do, what healing is and is not possible in our families. The novel absolutely smolders.

    —Tommy Orange

  • Fire Exit is gorgeous. A genuinely original examination of the costs we pay to tell ourselves certain stories about who we are and where we come from. Talty is a revelation on matters of the heart, particularly the tenderness and warfare of contemporary manhood. This is that rare thing: a frankly honest novel about hard things written without a trace of bitterness. I loved it.

    —Brandon Taylor

  • Talty’s writings feels to me like a gift of many lifetimes. Forgiveness, Morgan shows us, is also the work of a lifetime. The people to whom we feel closest can somehow be right beside us in the kitchen and simultaneously on some unreachably distant planet. People rotate away from each other for days or seasons at a time, and it’s miraculous when they return to find each other again, turning towards each other instead of away. It’s a treacherous thing, to love another person in this world that mixes so much beauty with so much sorrow. Thank you for reminding us, Morgan, that it is the necessary thing.

    —Karen Russell