“With a pitch-perfect narrator and a smorgasbord of sensory detail, Spring Warren brings the Old West back to life. Turpentine casts the rebirth of a privileged young man finding self-truth against the birth of a nation struggling to come together, in a novel filled with wit, brilliant characterizations, and descriptions that will leave you feeling as if you can still feel the dust of a buffalo stampede settling around you.”Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of My Sister's Keeper and Nineteen Minutes
978-0-8021-7036-1 • $14.00 • Paperback • Sep. 2007
“A novel of extraordinary wit and imagination, covering immense geographical, historical, and emotional ground. Full of twists and turns, verve and vinegar . . . A remarkable debut.” Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
At once a comic glance at the old American West and a serious story about transformation and redemption, Turpentine is the remarkable literary debut from Spring Warren. In this ambitious novel, Warren delivers a bold and inventive story about a young man’s attempt to make sense of the past while unsteadily growing into adulthood.
The year is 1871, and 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 ne’er-do-wells engages in a circuitous escape that takes them 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.
Warren’s debut novel is a startling and prescient portrait of the great expanse of the American west: unforgiving, lawless, and rugged, a natural canvas for dreamers and escapees alike. Equally memorable is the novel’s examination of a young hero: prone to failure, bold, and untested, Edward is a loveable and searching character in the vein of Mark Twain’s Huck Finn. A contemporary story set in a distinct and old-fashioned era, Turpentine is a gritty, sure-footed homage to the frontier and its heroes, villains, and goons.