On the Southern Literary Trail discussion

Sewerville: A Southern Gangster Novel
This topic is about Sewerville
Group Reads: Post-1990 > Sewerville Discovery Read: June 2013

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message 1: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 4113 comments Mod
I just started this and so far I am very impressed. The only reason I stopped at page 45 last night is I was reading in bed and fell asleep. Not because of the book, but my exhausted body rebelled on me.

message 2: by Mike (new)

Mike Addington | 130 comments Everitt wrote: "I'm enjoying it too Diane.

When I read a book, for some reason, (EDIT: comma usage matters in sentences like this) I start thinking of which songs work well with the theme. Sewerville has some wh..."

Hi Everitt: Regarding use of commas, to my knowledge, no other use of commas has produced so much debate as their use in the Bill of Rights, Amendment 2, ie, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

message 3: by Marty (last edited Jun 05, 2013 06:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Marty Elrod (martyelrod) | 22 comments I feel bad for Boone. He has made some very bad choices but...
I cried when he cried.
I really do not like Karen at all.

message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 4113 comments Mod
Karen is a Slone and they are all bad to the bone! Boone is the only character I do like.

message 5: by Aaron (last edited Jun 05, 2013 04:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments When do I get to jump on? I hate to say anything until folks are finished reading.

message 6: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 4113 comments Mod
I was wondering that myself, Aaron, beccause I have some questions for you. But I have finished the book and don't want to spoil it for anyone or give anything away. I like it a lot, by the way, and hope you are working on another novel.

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments Everitt wrote: "Aaron wrote: "When do I get to jump on? I hate today anything until folks are finished reading."

Jump in whenever you feel like it... ."

Sounds good to me. I really look forward to the discussion, and encourage everyone to say whatever they think.

message 8: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 4113 comments Mod
I really loved the recurring theme of the mountain orchid that looked like tiny hands clasped in prayer.

Ultra Violet | 1 comments Me, too, Diane! Honestly that is one of my favorite parts of the book. It is a nice little contrast to all the violence and darkness. A bittersweet irony.

Aaron - thank you so much for joining this discussion! I have never had a chance to speak with an author on Goodreads like this and am looking forward to your thoughts. To be frank, Sewerville really snuck up on me. I was expecting a fast little action novel and it turned out to be so much more than that. (OK, the gun on the cover fooled me.)

I have so many questions but will start with this: there are a few chapters where you don't refer to the characters by name, where they are just "the father" and "the daughter." I presume you were mirroring Walt/Karen and Boone/Samantha, but can you talk a little bit more about that?

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments Sure, "Ultra." I was actually hoping for a couple of things by referring to both Walt/Karen and Boone/Samantha as "the father" and "the daughter."

One is exactly what you mentioned - mirroring the pairs. Boone sees what Walt and Karen became, and that is one of his primary motivations for trying to get out of that life - he doesn't want Samantha to grow up and be someone like her mother, and he certainly doesn't want to become someone like Walt. He would like for the Boone/Samantha path to completely diverge from the Walt/Karen path.

The other thing I was going for -- and actually, it's probably just an offshoot of the first idea -- is a suggestion of archetypes. The father, the daughter, the son, the brother, the mother. What characteristics are inherent in those archetypes, and can they further inform the way we look at the characters in Sewerville? Walt Slone is a nasty human being, but if we pause and look at him just as a father to his daughter, does that help add layers to him?

Like anything else, it's up to the reader to decide for themselves but that's just my take on it. (I'll probably be saying that a lot.)

Jamie (jamieharris) I started the book last night and am about a quarter of the way through, so I’ll jump on in as well. (I’m a fast reader and don’t care about spoilers, so nobody has to hold back on my account.)

One thing I noticed, Aaron, right off the bat, is the kind of rhythm to the line structure. Like this part on the first page:
He had to go in.
He didn’t want to go in.
He had to go in.
Not yet, though.
So, he waited.
It seems like music was a big factor while you were writing the book. Was it intentional to work that kind of rhythm in, or something that came out on its own on the page?

And thanks again not only for joining us, but for being so generous with the digital copies!

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments Hi Jamie - Well, yes, music is definitely a big part of my life. I almost always have music (or a movie) playing in the background while I'm working, and as you can see with Sewerville I also put together a "soundtrack" for each piece, something that feels like a part of the world I'm writing about. I've found it helps keep my mind in the right place for each story.

Not to be too literary geek-y but for me, word rhythm is a necessity - it helps feed the emotional flow of the text. I couldn't say whether that is related to my love of music but you could be on to something there.

(By the way, I could easily put together a Sewerville soundtrack comprised of nothing but Steve Earle and Chris Knight.)

message 13: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 3 stars

Diane Barnes | 4113 comments Mod
I noticed the rhythm of the line structure as well, and It seems to put the reader right inside the mind of the character, because that's really how people think. This technique is used throughout the book, quite successfully, I think.

Marty Elrod (martyelrod) | 22 comments loved the book but in my ending, i wanted the dead Mrs Slone to be hidden away like Jimmy and i would have loved for Karen to have died a horrible death.

fyi the old Steve Earle would be great for the soundtrack!!!

Jamie (jamieharris) It’s interesting to hear where other readers’ sympathies lie. As the book goes on, Elmer and Karen are the two most interesting characters to me. My patience with Boone is wearing thin, although I’m guessing that could be intentional and could very well change before the end. (I’m about 80% done.)

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments Jamie, it will definitely be interesting to see what you think at the end. I'm curious what you find interesting about Karen and Elmer? My hope would always be that they weren't too one-dimensional, so I'm glad you've singled them out.

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments I tried to layer some things in there. Hopefully once, you're finished, you can go back and see even more of it.

Jamie (jamieharris) Aaron, so far, Karen is interesting to me because she obviously cares about her daughter, she’s not negligent as a mother but she’s the one involved in her family’s criminal enterprises instead of nagging Boone to get free of them. I feel like that’s the more stereotypical role, so it’s nice to see a twist on that. (Although, granted, she does spend a good deal of time nagging Boone in the other direction.) I can see where she feels so strongly about family ties, yet potentially at the expense of her daughter: that’s the kind of contradiction that makes us all human. I think that’s an interesting perspective to explore.

And Elmer, well, he’s funny. He’s not bright and in some places despicable but he’s got more of a sense of humor than anyone else in the book and I like the wildcards, I like the ones with guts. So far, he’s the only one with the guts (the bold, stupid guts) to take on Walt. That’s great to see.

Hopefully, I’ll finish it up today or tomorrow. I’ll have to see what I think at the end!

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments Elmer was fun to write. In earlier drafts he was actually two characters - both competitors of Walt, one the younger party guy and the other more of an older roughneck. Combining them seemed to really streamline the story.

message 20: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
I've read the book. As Diane had questions, so do I. I also don't want to spoil anything for our readers. I'll be posting a new topic for those that have finished the book. Many thanks for your generosity. But I paid for a copy. Can't have any starving authors! *GRIN*

Mike S
"Lawyer Stevens"

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments Thanks for the support Mike, and thanks again to the group for the discussion here!

Jamie (jamieharris) That’s a great question, Everitt. I’ll add too, what about the place? Is Sewerville any real-life place[s] on the map?

message 23: by Aaron (last edited Jun 16, 2013 02:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aaron Saylor | 20 comments I grew up in eastern Kentucky, and Sewardville is a composite of several small towns in the area. Same thing with the characters - they're composites of several different people, or at least the ideas of those people that I had when I was younger. My best friend's father was the local chief of police so I heard a lot of stories (although in all honesty I couldn't say if they were 100% true). There are some very specific details that I worked in as Easter eggs for my friends, like naming the bar the Bears Den.

There was only one specific experience of mine that I put in the book - the dead cow in the road. That actually happened to me just a couple of years but it seemed an apt symbol for Sewerville.

Otherwise, I just tried to tell a good story, in a setting that felt comfortable for me.

message 24: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new)

Laura | 2120 comments Mod
I just got this book free on amazon, July 2nd. So excited!

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