All Day Is a Long Time

David Sanchez. Mariner, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-358-57201-5

Sanchez’s shimmering debut uses rapid-fire prose and dark humor to sketch the hardscrabble coming-of-age of a boy on the Florida Gulf Coast. The troubled David tells of Xanax blackouts in high school classrooms, shooting up oxycodone and meth at home, running away at 14 to pursue a girl, and a series of stints in the Palm Beach County jail, before and after he turns 18. Flush with “energy, rage, and terrible longing,” David burns through a series of behavioral therapists and rehab facilities and trades sex for meth. The school wrestling team becomes a temporary distraction before a full-on return to drug stupors and near-lethal blackouts. The frenetic scenes are saturated with panic, stress, and simmering desperation, and the narration can be overly gloomy; its saving grace arrives when David, already a casual reader of Descartes, takes a community college literature course, and new possibilities open up for him. Sanchez is a daring, clever writer: a passage on the particulars of smoking crack is as vivid as David’s sober awakening and his yearning to make amends with family. This gritty and engrossing account of a man traversing into and out of hopelessness will stay with readers. Agent: Dan Kirschen, ICM Partners. (Jan.)