If a bookseller can be said to be a groupie, I think you can safely say that I am one for Don Lee. Ever since his short story collection Yellow, I have been falling in love with his characters, pondering his philosophy about art and identity, and laughing at his sharp wit. In Lonesome Lies Before Us, his hero is Yadin Park, a musician who was on the verge of making it, despite his stage fright and not fitting the rock star mold, only to walk away. Now he’s installing carpet for a living in Rosarita Bay, Lee’s own Yoknapatawpha, when after years of being away from the business, with a left-brained girlfriend with big ideas (though she’s currently cleaning rooms in a fancy resort), inspiration hits him again. Only he is still the same insecure mess he ever was, and now he’s also got degenerative hearing loss. I still consider Wrack and Ruin one of the best novels I’ve read in my bookselling career, and in many ways, Lonesome Lies Before Us is a companion work and it’s such a great tightrope-walking, argumentative, heartbreaking, and inspiring novel, all at the same time. Honestly, I could talk about it for an hour, but it would be a better conversation if you also read it, so could you start right now? Please?— Daniel Goldin
Yadin Park is a talented alt-country musician whose career has floundered-doomed first by his homely looks and lack of stage presence and then by a progressive hearing disorder. His girlfriend, Jeanette Matsuda, might have been a professional photographer but for a devastating heartbreak in her teens. Now Yadin works for Jeanette's father's carpet-laying company in California while Jeanette cleans rooms at a local resort. When Yadin's former lover and musical partner, the celebrated Mallory Wicks, comes back into his life, private hopes and dreams are exposed and secret fantasies about love and success are put to the test. Beautifully sad and laced with dark humor, Lonesome Lies Before Us is a profound, heartfelt romance, a soulful and memorable song.