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As a young man, Bill Argus abandoned his wife, their young son, and his family's dairy farm in the Sonoma County hamlet of Pianto. Now sixty-three, the once-famous photographer is overcome with the need to find forgiveness and redemption from those he left behind. Journeying back to the small, dreary California town, he is disoriented to find a ragged skeleton of the boyhood farm he remembered and his family unmoved and indifferent to his return. Bill's awkward homecoming is reported through the eyes of his second wife, Nora -- twenty years his junior -- who has her own troubled family history. Her father, much like Bill, deserted his family when Nora was just a toddler, never to return; and she has been estranged from her mother for more than half of her life. Bearing witness to Bill's reception by his brother, aunt, and his long-abandoned wife spark in Nora a revisiting of her complicated history, and soon she, too, sets off on a spiritual journey to explore her own parts unknown.
Set against the wild beauty of the California desert, this deftly imagined first novel lovingly maps the diverse terrain of the human heart as it probes the intricate bonds of family and the complex nature of forgiveness and love. Soulful and poignant, Kevin Brennan's "Parts Unknown is a striking meditation on the elusive nature of redemption and marks the debut of a gifted new voice in fiction.
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