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Left Behind

Novel tries to figure out why a dad ditched his kid for three decades.

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Writer and father Will Allison doesn’t think he has much in common with Wylie Greer, the protagonist of his debut novel, What You Have Left. Wylie drops off his five-year-old daughter with his in-laws after his wife dies . . . and doesn’t return for 30 years. “I hope I’m not like him,” laughs Allison, a South Carolina native who now lives in New Jersey with his wife and, yep, five-year-old daughter. “But being a father certainly informed a lot of the book.” @cal body 1:The novel probes such gray issues as abandonment, hopelessness, and forgiveness. Things don’t always turn out the way they should, and much is made of the dichotomy between letting go and giving up. “My parents were divorced when I was young, and I was separated from my father,” says Allison, who attended Case Western Reserve University. “I don’t want to psychoanalyze myself, but that’s part of [the inspiration].” What You Have Left is netting rave reviews. For Allison, an award-winning short story author, it’s a vindicating leap to the long form. But he admits that he sorta cheated a little. “A lot of the chapters were published as short stories,” he says. “The chapters are all self-contained. But I’m under contract for another book, so I’m now doing one with a more straight-through narrative line.”
Mon., June 25, 3 p.m.

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