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Train Wreck Girl: a novel [Paperback]

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Item description for Train Wreck Girl: a novel by Sean Carswell...

"Sean Carswell is a wonderful storyteller. . . . Reading his stuff makes you laugh and makes you think."-Howard Zinn

"[Carswell's writing is] the antidote to what is so boring or safe or wrong with modern book publishing."-Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned

Train Wreck Girl is the funny and tragic story of one man's quest to figure out what to do with his life now that it's too late for him to die young.

After finding his girlfriend dead on the railroad tracks right after breaking up with her, Danny McGregor-Flagstaff bartender and surfer without an ocean-rides the next bus out of Arizona, fleeing to his Cocoa Beach, Florida, hometown, where a maelstrom of past ghosts await.

Back in Florida, his treacherous friend, Bart, finds Danny a job picking up corpses. Sophie, a former crazy girlfriend who stabbed Danny, wants to rekindle their relationship. Taylor, a twelve-year-old neighborhood girl, only wants Danny to teach her to surf. And then there's Helen, with a face that launched a dozen Greyhounds. Through the chaos, Danny discovers his strengths amid all his weaknesses and is able to move forward while making peace with his past.

Sean Carswell is a former carpenter, housepainter, dishwasher, and warehouse clerk. His fiction has appeared in dozens of literary journals. He has been a staff writer for Flipside, Clamor, and Ink 19, and is a regular contributor to Razorcake. A co-founder of Gorsky Press, he is currently a professor at the University of California.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   239
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2008
Publisher   Manic D Press, Inc.
ISBN  1933149213  
ISBN13  9781933149219  

Availability  0 units.

More About Sean Carswell

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Sean Carswell is a former carpenter, housepainter, dishwasher, pizza delivery boy, and warehouse clerk. His fiction has appeared in dozens of literary journals. He has been a staff writer for Flipside, READ, Clamor, and Ink 19, and is a regular contributor to Razorcake. A co-founder of Gorsky Press, he is currently a professor at Cal State University Channel Islands.

Sean Carswell was born in 1970.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Train Wreck Girl: a novel?

train wreck girl  Jul 30, 2008
I love this book. It keeps you thinking for days. The author captures the feelings you have and can't vocalize. Definitely recommend it!
A true contender for best novel of 2008  Jul 11, 2008
Before I go any further, know that Train Wreck Girl will easily be one of the best novels of 2008. At 20 pages in, the earth paused. I remained absolutely entranced through the final page. Novels like this don't happen very often, so pay attention.

Train Wreck Girl poses as a fairly straightforward story of a man traveling cross-country to flee his past, returning years later, only to re-immerse in all that he tried to originally escape. He's outgrown this childhood town of Cocoa Beach, FL, but only in width. The slug line describes the narrative beautifully: One man's quest to figure out what to do with his life now that it is too late for him to die young.

Beyond the immediately arresting imaginative structural elements (the first chapter is told as a countdown to New Year's, 1999; some following chapters are told as itineraries outlining the protagonist's day life) is a narrative so beautifully balanced between plot and character that it wasn't uncommon for me to breeze through 50 pages without realizing a single blink.

The protagonist, Dan, for example, is a poor, seemingly uneducated man, yet carries an impressive cultural awareness that artfully dodges the dirty savant trope so common with "hard life" literature:

She called me white trash. Which hurt. The "trash" part I can take. But I don't know why she had to throw "white" in there. [pg. 18]

Or this observation, when introducing two of the narrator's old friends:

Marigold wore a ring on her left ring finger. Christian didn't. I took that to mean they were engaged. [pg. 45]

It is this uncanny ability to completely mine a character with initially apparent minutiae that allows Train Wreck Girl to avoid so many potential pitfalls into character-generic cliché. This could have easily been a simple crime novel, a straightforward road trip story, or even a terrible love story. But it isn't. Perhaps it is this very ability to tease, while simultaneously comforting the reader that carries the novel.

Here's the ultimate test of a successful novel: can the story humanize a scene involving people farting on a corpse? Train Wreck Girl can, and does.
a great summer read  Jun 19, 2008
Train Wreck Girl is an awesome read because the characters are very 3-dimensional and the story moves along quickly, but pauses just enough to let the weird insights fly ... Carswell definitely understands the difficulties in trying to figure everything out once you're past the party-hardy point in your life, and has written a novel that anyone who's still working at Starbucks or wherever (as all your pals are getting married or heading to law school) will relate to.

My favorite line in this book goes something like, "Have you ever been about to do something that you know you'll regret later but can't stop yourself from doing it?" Yeah, like every day.

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