Sophie has managed to keep herself clean for a full year. Now, against her sponsor’s advice, she’s agreed to a road trip with her boyfriend Sid, who sees the journey a chance to recapture their past. As they make their way from Houston across Texas and the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, Sophie quickly learns that it’s not easy being sober and trapped in a car with someone who’s living the life you’re fighting to leave behind. Bar brawls, automatic weapons, and hidden stashes of liquor complicate things even further as Sophie struggles to discover who she’s supposed to be in this new beginning. As they move farther from home, the few lifelines she has left become strained, and even phone calls to her sponsor don’t seem to be enough to squelch the chaos. Sophie’s new life is in danger of collapse, and with Sid around to pour gas on the fire there doesn’t seem to be anything she can do to stop it—unless she can learn what it means to get better.
The Light Here Changes Everything is a story of addiction—to alcohol, to people, to patterns—that, at its heart, seeks to understand why we stay in situations that no longer serve our needs.
About the Author
Patrick Stockwell is a native of Houston, Texas living and working in the Texas Hill Country. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction from New Mexico State University. His novella, The Light Here Changes Everything, winner of the 2018 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, was recently published by Texas Review Press.
Patrick Stockwell’s The Light Here Changes Everything is the mesmerizing story of Sophie’s against-her-will attempt to throw open the blinds on her life. An in-recovery alcoholic, Sophie finds that after reaching one year of sobriety, the most important relationships in her life—with her hard-nosed AA sponsor, her problematic boyfriend, her dead father, and her sober and un-sober selves—flicker with shadows that are darker and deeper than she suspected. This is a powerful and emotionally layered debut from a writer with tremendous talent, patience, and grace. —Joseph Scapellato, author of The Made-Up Man and Big Lonesome
"Every good story is a coming-of-age story; Patrick Stockwell's The Light Here Changes Everything is no exception. Adulthood means abandoning certain romantic notions, and Sophie's entrenchment in a kind of western wild glamour— replete with bar brawls, road trips, guns and booze -- shifts in the course of this utterly engaging novella. This character is funny and flawed and working hard at redemption in the lustrous harsh light of the real, rather than nostalgic, American west." —Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once and Bound
"Patrick Stockwell is a writer who knows how to tell a story. In The Light Here Changes Everything, he explores the powerful influence of personal relationships alongside the seductive dread of addiction. This is a story about trespass, about those who trespass against us, and how readily we trespass against ourselves. Stockwell’s writing is crisp, infused by a satisfying forward momentum, and punctuated by moments of elevated light." —Kurt Caswell, author of Laika's Window: The Legacy of a Soviet Space Dog
"Gorgeous, patient and electric. This is the kind of work that restructures the reader at the atomic level. Sophie finds herself on someone else's daffy pilgrimage, but damn it if she doesn't find what she didn't know she was looking for. Reminds you that self-destruction is the bastard cousin of self-creation." —David MacLean, author of The Answer to the Riddle is Me
"Patrick Stockwell’s novella, The Light Here Changes Everything, is a journey from Texas to Arizona in the tradition of a good, old fashioned American road trip. But, Stockwell powerfully challenges the form. While John Steinbeck might go on a similar journey for 400-some pages or Jack Kerouac for 300, Stockwell uses only 69, and in this way, Stockwell’s road trip, dysfunctional and moving, is an update to these classics." —Tyler Truman Julian in Puerto Del Sol
"The Light Here Changes Everything by Patrick Stockwell is a contemplative novella that digs deep beneath the surface of addiction and explores one woman’s internal and external conflicts with her forced sobriety after yet another DUI." —Ruthie Jones in Lone Star Literary