Carswell, Sean, Train Wreck Girl. San Francisco: Manic D Press. 2008. paper,ISBN: 978-1-933149-21-9
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.… Read the rest