Scott Sparling

Hallucinations, a blog about writing, trains, and Wire to Wire

“Things on fire…”

Posted on May 6th, 2011.

Kirkus Reviews calls Wire to Wire "A dizzying, speed-laced debut novel...with plenty of peek-between-your-fingers moments for good measure." Including some combustible stuff. Here's the full review:

With Dexedrine-slamming rail riders, a glue-sniffing femme fatale and a lead protagonist whose point of view is skewed under the best of circumstances, the book is a worthy combination of Bob Seger nostalgia and dope-fueled noir, but it’s not always the easiest story to follow. The framing device: video editor Michael Slater’s editing suite, where the pill-popping film slicer screens scenes from his own life. Michael has never been quite the same since a peculiar, life-altering incident. While riding on top of a hurtling freight train with his amigo Harp Maitland, a power line zaps the young adventurer with 33,000 volts to the forehead. Now Slater has a head full of holes, and he sometimes sees people who aren’t there.

From there, it’s a hallucinatory road trip from Arizona to Michigan, which Slater describes in loving detail. It’s a blistered postcard of passing Americana, stitched together with diners, pool halls and pickup trucks, not to mention the freight trains that Sparling himself rode.

Technically, it’s a crime novel—there’s violence and sex and things on fire. But it’s obvious that the author is more interested in what’s bouncing around in his hero’s fractured head and spilling it out onto the page than he is in tidy endings. Slater explains his peculiar interests to a fellow traveler as a train narrowly misses a cow on the tracks. “I was disappointed,” he says. “I wanted to see the cow explode. Things start to go wrong and I like to watch.”

A strange, formidable novel about crossed signals and damage done, with plenty of peek-between-your-fingers moments for good measure.

I love that "violence and sex and things on fire" part, but also their tip that it's really not a crime novel in many ways. At least not to me. Though I would like to see a cow explode.