Synopses & 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 desert, but his problems just follow him. Slater returns to his native Michigan to seek out his old train-hopping pal, only to find that the Pleasant Peninsula of his youth is none too pleasant. Before long he finds his way into a love triangle, gets caught in the schemes of the resident drug lord, and manages to end up on the wrong side of everyone and everything in the small town of Wolverine. When the violent sociopath Slater left to die in the desert tracks him down, the chance of getting out of this hell unscathed starts to look slim.
Three years later, Slater sits in a dark video-editing suite, popping speed like penny candy, trying to reconcile himself with the unfilmed memories that haunt his screens and his conscience.
Scott Sparling's debut novel, with echoes of Robert Stone and Denis Johnson, pays homage to one of our most popular and enduring genres the American crime novel.
"When rail rider Michael Slater gets smacked in the head by a power line while riding a train through Detroit, it sets his life on a course no boxcar could follow. A few years later, working as a speed-popping video editor in New York, Slater is cursed with watching his past unfold on the screens in his editing suite. He watches the story of his fellow stowaway Harp Maitland and how the two of them along with a cast of characters torn from an especially good police procedural outrun drug dealers, crooked cops, and smalltown creeps without ever being particularly sympathetic: as Slater concludes, 'the doomed... have no need for guilt.' Sparling's debut is well crafted and thrilling, tying together an obvious love for both Michigan and railroads with an expert sense of timing and plot. The world he has created is both overwhelming and exhilarating, thanks in no small part to a large ensemble of memorable characters and a relentless pace. Indeed, hardly a page goes by without some sort of fantastic calamity throwing Slater and company into further turmoil when the most peaceful passages of the story are speed-addled, that's saying something but it's done so well that hopping off this runaway train would never cross a reader's mind. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"In the tradition of the great noir novels, Wire to Wire, is really something. Like being in a stolen car with no brakes in a world of train hopping, sex, violence, and drugs. It's all edge from start to finish." Willy Vlautin
"Scott Sparling writes like a man on fire, and Wire to Wire is the wickedly brilliant crime novel forged in the white-hot heat of his talent. It's an electrifying debut by a writer who knows the wrong side of town like the back if his hand. People, if there is a God, this book will win prizes." Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time
"In Michael Slater's world, fate is delivered atop a moving freight train. It comes in the form of a live electrical wire that smacks him in the head while he attempts to smoke a joint.
'The power line kissed his forehead. It lit him up like a torch and lit the joint with 33,000 volts, but Slater never had a chance to inhale.'
So begins Wire to Wire
, Portland writer Scott Sparling's smart, thrilling and darkly funny debut novel. It reportedly took Sparling more than 20 years to write this book, but it reads like lightning." Doug Baldwin, The Oregonian
(Read the entire Oregonian review
About the Author
Scott Sparling grew up near railroad tracks in Southern Michigan and later attended Antioch College. Wire to Wire is his first novel. Large portions of it were written in Northern Michigan, Seattle, Portland, and in a tree house near Sucker Lake. He now lives outside Portland, Oregon with his wife and son.