Synopses & Reviews
At once a comic glance at the old American West and a serious story about transformation and redemption, this remarkable debut delivers a bold and inventive story about a young mans attempt to make sense of the past while unsteadily growing into adulthood.
"'This highly episodic picaresque manages to outlast a generic, disorganized plot to emerge as an entertaining romp through the American 1870s. For the most part, Warren's debut follows the youthful adventures of Edward Turrentine Bayard III, who has left his upper-class Connecticut family and headed to frontier Nebraska for his health. In short order, he becomes a buffalo skinner, learns to ride and shoot, and is smitten by the beautiful and poetic Lill Martine. She has other ideas, and Ned, crestfallen but undaunted in his devotion, takes a job offer from a paleontologist back East. There, he meets Phaegin, an attractive, streetwise dance hall girl, and more or less adopts a juvenile delinquent named Curly. Curly's mischief soon has the trio accused of anarchy, theft and murder, and they flee across the continent for their lives. A series of improbable coincidences and misadventures follow, involving wealthy entrepreneurs, Mormons, Indians and a variety of rustic frontier types. There's no shortage of sudden death and grim gore, all of which remains comically on the surface. Characters come and go, often violently. But astonishingly, the sweetness of the story keeps it afloat. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A comic glance at the old American West and a serious story about transformation and redemption, Turpentine is a bold, inventive novel about a young mans attempt to make sense of the past while unsteadily growing into adulthood. In 1871, Edward Turrentine Bayard III, sick and restless, leaves his Connecticut home to recover out west. But when the private sanitarium in which he is to stay proves to be nothing more than a rickety outpost on the Nebraskan plains, he becomes a buffalo skinner. After returning to the East, Ned teams up with Phaegin, who earns her money rolling cigars, and Curly, a fourteen-year-old coal miner, but the newfound trio is wrongly accused of triggering a bomb at a labor rally, and they must flee. With a Pinkerton agent following their every move, the gang of winsome neer-do-wells takes flight on a circuitous escape through northern outposts into Indian country, past the slums of Chicago, and into the boundless Great Plains. En route they become witness to the transformation and growing pains of a burgeoning nation. A picaresque novel of wonderful energy and unforgettable characters, Turpentine is a comic, prescient look at the growth of an individual and a country.