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Wire to Wire

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  117 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Wire to Wire assembles a cast of train-hopping, drug-dealing, glue-huffing lowlifes, tells a harrowing tale of friendship and loss, and creates a stunning portrait of Northern Michigan in the late 1970s.

While riding a freight car through Detroit, Michael Slater suffers a near-fatal accident—a power line to the head. After recovering, he tries to lead a quiet life in the de
Paperback, 375 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Tin House Books (first published May 11th 2011)
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James Thane
Jun 04, 2012 James Thane rated it liked it
Video editor Michael Slater sits in New York, popping speed and watching his life unfold on the screens in front of him. Michael and his best friend, Harp Maitland, were riding the rails some years earlier. Standing on top of a boxcar, Slater saw a power line looming above them. He pushed Maitland to safety, but was hit by the line himself and nearly killed.

Slater will never fully recover, but he makes his way back home to Wolverine, Michigan, on the Northern Peninsula. He discovers that his bel
Aug 27, 2011 Adam rated it it was amazing
Awesome. This guy writes like an 18 year old fucks. Careless, angrily, and with an overwhelming sense of disbelief. Difference is you won't mind sleeping in Sparling's wet spot. His prose is spot on, the plot is cohesive, and the characters are a bunch of miserable wrectches with hearts. This book made me want to sniff glue and be a lumberjack.
Jun 05, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it
This is a novel populated by drifters, druggies, assholes, and lost souls of characters who are also rather sure of exactly what they want and generally unashamed of taking it. In other words: it's a heck of a lot of fun to read.

Ultimately, this book is Michael Slater's story. He's a bit of a twitchy speed freak with a metal plate in his head thanks to an incident with a power line on a freight train. There are other key ingredients here as well, though: his estranged train riding compatriot, Ha
Diane Prokop
Apr 29, 2011 Diane Prokop rated it it was amazing
Scott Sparling’s debut novel “Wire To Wire” is a dark panoramic view full of fleeting nightmares and bad memories racing across the electrified brain of Michael Slater. That’s because while riding atop a train through Detroit his head meets a power line that almost kills him. The “electricity used Slater’s body as a raceway, entering at his forehead and shooting through his feet, rearranging the molecules as it went.” After having his skull cut open and surgically retooled, his perspective is c ...more
Sep 27, 2011 Johnny rated it really liked it
While Sparling insists that WIRE TO WIRE is not a crime novel, but rather an homage to the crime novel, the novel's strengths are in its genre elements. For all the literary bells and whistles that adorn the narrative, they are distractions from a solid character-driven story at the center.

Sparling does a wonderful job opening the reader up to his world of glue-huffers and boxcar train jumpers, its own sub-culture. The characters are aimless, yet interesting. People rather than archetypes.

If the
Jul 28, 2011 Adam rated it really liked it
Appropriate blurbs from Willy Vlautin and Donald Ray Pollack as this is a similar tale of a low life group of outcasts, junkies, murderers, and fools. Shades of Thompson and McCarthy but similar to Kem Nunn in that the fall of the characters is echoed by the squandered potential of the landscape they inhabit. He nails the druggy despair of lower Michigan, I had the outline for novel of druggy lowlifes in Michigan (where I grew up) but now I’m wondering what the point would be (weirdly the author ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Ann rated it it was amazing
Scott Sparling's WIRE TO WIRE further clarified for me a couple of the things that draw me into a book. The first I've known for a long time. I crave surprise. It's here in spades. But I also have noticed lately that awareness of the beauty or specificity of language has become more important to me as well. Sparling's descriptions seem new, unique, and perfectly crafted.

With MEMENTO-like flashbacks in time, we wander willingly into Michael Slater's sometimes horrific lifeline following him until
Daniel Chen
Jun 20, 2011 Daniel Chen rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic. It totally consumed me for the few days that I took to read it. It reminded me of Ken Kesey's Sometimes A Great Notion in that there are so many stories that weave together, which make for a complex, gritty atmosphere, and a epic scope. The characters are well developed, troubled, lonely, yet relatable. Sparling makes witty comments throughout the book which I have more than I couple times felt the need to sticky note (my favorite being on pg 359). He holds nothing back ...more
Mar 11, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir
fantastic rollicking novel of young people in the usa with nothing really to live for, nothing but money, sex, love, drugs, and moving. from a new series from Tin House called New Voice.
Michael Gust
Jul 27, 2013 Michael Gust rated it liked it
Scott Sparling does an interesting thing in Wire To Wire. He explores the inner lives of social cast-offs, addicts and criminals. Sure, this is nothing new. It's called crime fiction. But Sparling tacks into his character's head at an oblique angle, not glorifying them, not deconstructing them, but just letting them speak their truths. This book isn't built around "beats" or "arcs" but follows a straight line from page 1 to the end. Much like the trains that are the underlying trope of this book ...more
Shelbi Adams
I'm going to be honest and say I only bought this book because it took place in Michigan, and I live in Michigan as well.
Apparently Michigan wasn't a big enough appeal for me in this book. I found myself reading it, but not really grasping anything I was reading. It was definitely not a deep read for me. I didn't grasp anything about the screens or the railroad aspect of things because I don't know anything about editing films or railroad cars.
However, even though I didn't understand the genera
May 20, 2013 Walt rated it it was ok
I was really dissapointed with this book, my husband and I had seen a review in the local paper on it because the author is from our state (Michigan.) We love detective/crime stories, and we are huge train fans.... so this seemed like a perfect fit. When a book jumps around and is really hard to follow I can usually over look it, and when there is an excessive amount of sex and violence I can usually over look it, but both together made this book take more effort to read than I care to give. Per ...more
Jon Bell
Dec 03, 2012 Jon Bell rated it it was amazing
An exciting and engaging book that drew me in immediately. The characters seem so real, and despite the fact that they are all so obviously flawed from the get-go -- drugs, crime, betrayal -- you cannot help but care about them, back them, stay with them so you find out what happens to them. Sparling's writing is fresh and fast, and as someone with a deep connection to Michigan and especially the area that Wire to Wire is set in, I felt like I was right there all along, walking through the town ...more
Jan 16, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be a little hard to follow at first but as I read it I found it hard to put down.
Wire to wire is about this gentle man who starts out with his friend as a train hopper and one day while riding on the top of one of the cars with his friend finds himself if a shocking spot as he saves his friend from loosing his head by a low hanging electric wire and instead has it hit him right smack in the head sending him to the hospital to try and save his life.

through out the story he is
Jun 01, 2011 Pauline rated it did not like it
This is a well written book about Michael Slater and the tale of his life. Throughout the story, we wind out about how he arrived to where he is at now. This includes a love triangle, drug dealers, cops and train hopping. I gave it 2 stars not because of the writing or content (I have no complaint about how it was written)but because I just did not like the book. It is not something the I found particularly interesting to read and it just did not catch my attention.

I won this book in a Goodread
Jul 11, 2012 Patrizia rated it liked it
I picked the book up because of the imprint: "A Tin House New Voice." Reminded me a lot of early Robert Stone, circa Dog Soldiers and Hall of Mirrors. The prose was beautiful, but I'd have to say author Scott Sparling doesn't know how to cobble it together into a cohesive whole. The main character has had brain surgery so possibly the disjointedness was a deliberate author choice, meant to immerse the reader in the protagonist's inner landscape, in whihc case Bravo. Still. Very hard to figure ou ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Steve rated it it was ok
I found Wire to Wire to be an interesting premise however, it was a little difficult to read. The main character Slater suffers from a rare and unique injury, which he suffered while jumping freight trains. A whole bunch of drugs, women, and violence prevents him from leading a normal life.

My issue with the book is that it is written in a style that lacked coherence as I was constantly trying to figure out who the author was talking about. It’s a shame cause I always enjoy a good junky lowlife
Chris Lindsay
Nov 06, 2013 Chris Lindsay rated it really liked it
If Quentin Tarantino were to make a movie about riding freight trains and small town politics and corruption, it's probably resemble this book (but with fewer gruesome deaths).

Interesting characters, fantastic dialogue, and a few, neat little nuggets about Michigan history and landmarks help to make this an enjoyable read.

Crude language and potential triggers will be a turn-off for some readers.
Feb 01, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
Though driven by the impulses of this novel's pair of freight-hopping main characters, Wire to Wire is fueled by tension. The specter of imminent disaster hangs over Harp and Slater, as they follow their desires--on and off boxcars, and in and out of the same woman's bed. Murder, drugs, and the gritty terrain of 1980s Michigan add to the unsettling (but also thrilling) atmosphere.
Jul 03, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
I'm only about a third of the way through, but Scott Sparling's writing reads at an exhilarating pace, much like the trains being hopped in this excellent debut. He switches masterfully between locations and points of view, delivering a fast-paced frolic of a novel that's both literary and adrenaline packed--a difficult feat indeed.
Sparling's novel has most of the elements of a so-macabre-it's-funny film by the Coen brothers. The economic picture he paints of Northern Michigan unsettled me but the details about freight trains, ferries, and glue-sniffing were interesting.
Jan 15, 2012 Steve rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I disliked this book enough that I didn't even finish the book. I did not like any of the characters and decided not to waste my time finishing the book as I really didn't care how it ended.
Nigel rated it it was ok
Oct 31, 2015
Dysmonia Kuiper
Dysmonia Kuiper rated it it was ok
Jan 22, 2013
Mark rated it really liked it
Jun 16, 2012
Timothy Coplin
Timothy Coplin rated it it was amazing
Aug 02, 2014
Kristin rated it really liked it
Feb 12, 2011
Goransle rated it really liked it
Nov 28, 2011
Richard rated it really liked it
Oct 07, 2011
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Originally from Michigan, Scott Sparling lives outside Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.
More about Scott Sparling...

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