The Spark and the Drive

Wayne Harrison

St. Martin's Press

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By an award-winning writer of short fiction, a devastatingly powerful debut novel of hero-worship, first love, and betrayal

Justin Bailey is seventeen when he arrives at the shop of legendary muscle car mechanic Nick Campbell. Anguished and out of place among the students at his rural Connecticut high school, Justin finds in Nick, his captivating wife Mary Ann, and their world of miraculous machines the sense of family he has struggled to find at home.

But when Nick and Mary Ann’s lives are struck by tragedy, Justin’s own world is upended. Suddenly Nick, once celebrated for his mechanical genius, has lost his touch. Mary Ann, once tender and compassionate to her husband, has turned distant. As Justin tries to support his suffering mentor, he finds himself drawn toward the man’s grieving wife. Torn apart by feelings of betrayal, Justin must choose between the man he admires more than his own father and the woman he yearns for.A poignant and fiercely original debut, with moments of fast-paced suspense, Wayne Harrison's The Spark and The Drive is the unforgettable story of a young man forced to make an impossible decision—no matter the consequences.

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Book Excerpts

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1.

 

Road Rage magazine, in a commemorative issue that mourned the death of the American muscle car—killed by the Environmental Protection Agency—ran a feature on Nick Campbell in 1983. The article was two years old when I started my internship, and I liked to reread it, framed and dusty on the counter, as I stirred powdered creamer in my coffee. I almost had it memorized:

Ten years after the EPA came down on Detroit like the church on Galileo, we still see no renaissance of horsepower on the showroom floor.

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Reviews

Praise for The Spark and the Drive

"There's nothing I enjoy more than entering a fictional world over which an author demonstrates complete mastery. That's exactly what Wayne Harrison offers his lucky readers in The Spark and the Drive." —Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Empire Falls

"Young men will always idolize the father substitutes who promise them a way out of the familiar. Ever volatile, such relationships fuel some of our best literature, and to this category we must now add Wayne Harrison's gorgeous and grittily poetic debut novel. Set in an auto shop in working class Connecticut at the end of the golden age of the American muscle car, The Spark and the Drive has all the horsepower and headlong beauty of the extraordinary machines at its center." —Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier

"Told with equal parts grit and tenderness, The Spark and the Drive follows the dangers, thrills, and twists of fate that make one boy into a man and lead him to the painful discovery that love and loyalty can't always be reconciled. A piercing and stylish debut." —Maggie Shipstead, New York Times bestselling author of Seating Arrangements

"Wayne Harrison knows his way around the recesses of desire as well as he knows his way under the hood of a car--that is, with masterly precision and comprehension. The Spark and the Drive is a throwback novel; no gimmicks or preciousness, just heart-gutting prose about men and women that veers with agility between the muscular and the poetic." —Teddy Wayne, award-winning author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

"Wayne Harrison knows, like no one I’ve ever read before, how to describe what goes on underneath the hood of a car. But more, much more, he knows what goes underneath our skins. He knows all about our deepest desires and what we’ll do to attain them. The Spark and the Drive is as intense and well- written a love story as you’ll find. I’ll be in the grip of Justin's—and Mary Ann’s—story for months to come." —Peter Orner, award-winning author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge

"The Spark and the Drive is a potent accomplishment: a novel about how quickly the shape of a life can change and about the years a person can spend trying to sort through the pieces. It's written with acuity and grace, and best of all it knows how to hold its power in reserve, shifting and accelerating at the most surprising moments, so that it has the rhythm and momentum of a good street race." —Kevin Brockmeier, New York Times bestselling author of The Brief History of the Dead

"This novel vividly renders the cult-like world of muscle car enthusiasts, but the author's ultimate concerns are the sparks and misfires of the human heart. Wayne Harrison is an exciting new voice in American fiction." —Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena

"The Spark and the Drive is a beautiful blend of adolescent lust and grown-up love and grief. At seventeen, Justin Bailey's world appears to be all about cars and sex; but at the heart of it all is a desire for friendship and family and a sense of belonging. Wayne Harrison is an extremely gifted writer, fully capturing all the complexities of Justin's world in ways both endearing and frightening. This novel is as expertly built and fine-tuned as the engines he writes about." —Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Life after Life

"This fuel-injected story plunges us into a fascinating, vibrant world of work, family, desire, and love.  With his powerful insight and generous heart, Harrison reveals a character searching for his path through this world, struggling to understand what it means to make an accounting of a life, and finally what it means to be a man." —Keith Scribner, award-winning author of The Oregon Experiment

"The Spark and the Drive is a superb debut novel by an exciting writer. Harrison is that rare novelist—Tim Gautreaux also comes to mind—who's at home in the mechanical world; he knows what it's like to get your hands dirty and greasy and to work all day long on a shop floor. But perhaps more importantly, he knows the human heart, and in these pages he's managed a rare feat: to write a novel that's as moving as it is suspenseful, as tender as it is tough." —Steve Yarbrough, bestselling author of The Realm of Last Chances

"How cars and mechanics—so central to American life, so key to popular culture—have gone this long without a wonderful novel to celebrate them is a mystery. Harrison will be new to most readers but with one novel he has staked a virtually exclusive claim on working class Connecticut, the women and the men, the loves and betrayals, and the muscle cars that drive them to their destinies. If you're lucky enough to be invited to Bruce Springsteen's next birthday, this beautifully written novel will be the perfect gift." —Scott Spencer, New York Times bestselling author of A Ship Made of Paper

"Wayne Harrison's debut is a powerful lesson in love, friendship, and betrayal, and why becoming a man can sometimes mean burning another man down. The Spark and the Drive jumps out of the gate, a coming of age to an age that has already gone by, and marks Harrison as somebody to watch." —Alexi Zentner, award-winning author of The Lobster Kings


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About the Author

Wayne Harrison

WAYNE HARRISON is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop whose stories have appeared in The Atlantic, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, and Narrative Magazine.  One of his stories was selected for Best American Short Stories 2010 and his fiction has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. His short story collection Wrench was a finalist for the Iowa Book Award, the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award, and the Spokane Prize.  He teaches writing at Oregon State University.

Wayne Harrison

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Spark and the Drive
Wayne Harrison

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
July 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466837355
ISBN10: 1466837357
288 pages
$12.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
July 2014
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781250041241
ISBN10: 1250041244
6 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches, 288 pages
$25.99
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