Sorrow Floats

Sorrow Floats

4.0 15
by Tim Sandlin

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Everyone in GroVont, Wyoming, knows everybody else's business, but Maurey Pierce Talbot is practically famous around town

Tim Sandlin has published eight novels. Two of his screenplays have been made into movies. He turned forty with no phone, TV, or flush toilet and spent more time talking to the characters in his head than the people around him. He now

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Everyone in GroVont, Wyoming, knows everybody else's business, but Maurey Pierce Talbot is practically famous around town

Tim Sandlin has published eight novels. Two of his screenplays have been made into movies. He turned forty with no phone, TV, or flush toilet and spent more time talking to the characters in his head than the people around him. He now has seven phone lines, four TVs he doesn't watch, three flush toilets, and a two-headed shower. He lives happily (indoors) with his family in Jackson, Wyoming.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Able storytelling and an engaging cast of dysfunctional modern American pilgrims animate this winning tale of the road. When tipsy, 23-year-old Maurey Pierce Talbot accidentally drives through her Wyoming town with her baby on the roof of her car, she realizes just how far she has sunk since her father's death left her distraught and almost unhinged. (She writes him daily picture postcards, knowing full well he is gone but unable to come to terms with her loss.) After attempting suicide and being thrown out by her philandering husband, she meets Lloyd and Shane, two recovering alcoholics who have devised a scheme to smuggle Coors beer to the East Coast. Longing to be reunited with her eight-year-old daughter Shannon in North Carolina (Sandlin chronicled Shannon's birth in Skipped Parts ), Maurey decamps on an unlikely odyssey, pulling a horse trailer full of beer behind a broken-down old ambulance, sipping Yukon Jack from the bottle as her companions search for AA meetings. Maurey is not yet ready to deal with her alcoholism or her reluctance to be loved, but the hardships of the road and the bonds that unite this group of refugees (others join them along the way) will change that. Maurey's wry, cocksure voice evokes both her cowgirl roots and the novel's '70s setting. Despite the bickering, sarcasm, cynicism and personal tragedy that season the lives of his colorful, credible characters, Sandlin fashions a convincing tale of redemption. (Oct.)
Bill Ott
"I didn't really care where we went so long as we didn't get there." That sentence, spoken by 23-year-old Maurey Pierce Talbot from GroVont, Wyoming, defines the spirit of the road novel. It's not about a journey from one place to another, it's about motion and the freedom motion brings. Listen to Maurey again: "I needed a gap, a rest between this and that where no one could pull me up, put me down, or tear off little pieces of my energy." It doesn't work out quite like that, of course, but that's the other thing about road novels: despite your best intentions, you always do get somewhere. Fans of Tim Sandlin's quirky, iconoclastic novels will remember Maurey from "Skipped Parts" , which told the tragicomic tale of how she had a baby at 13. It's a decade later now (the mid-1970s), and Maurey's troubles keep piling up: her father has died, and she's hitting the bottle hard. Then she misplaces her second child, and her husband throws her out. Maurey's adventures on the road, in the company of two reformed drunks with stories to tell and a gaggle of other oddball characters, mix comedy and pathos effectively, though Sandlin gives in occasionally to some too easy sentimentality. Still, you expect a little of that on a road trip; if you don't feel free to turn maudlin on a journey to nowhere you might as well just stay home.

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Product Details

Publication date:
GroVont Series , #2
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB

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From the Prologue

My behavior slipped after Daddy died and went to San Francisco. I danced barefoot in bars, I flipped the bird at churches. Early one morning in April I drove Dothan's new pickup truck off the Snake River dike, and when the tow truck crew showed up they found me squatting on a snow patch in my nightgown crying over the body of a dead plover.

Not that I'd ever been the Betty Crocker showcase woman. All through my teens GroVont townfolk called me "that Maurey Pierce girl," then after I came home from the university it became "that Maurey Talbot woman." But by May I'd taken to midday drinking and the writing of a daily picture postcard to Dad. I mostly sent him photographs of the Tetons from various views at various times of year-sunset from the top of Signal Mountain in winter, Jenny Lake on a cobalt clear day. I searched the valley curio shops for pictures of fall because Dad always did enjoy golden aspens and red chokecherries. What Dad didn't like was cute kids in station wagons feeding Yellowstone bears. He looked at Yellowstone as a big zoo of tame animals and lost tourists.

The pictures weren't all mountains and ain't nature wonderful shots. On Easter I mailed him the postcard of Clover the Killer with a rope around his neck sitting on a bow-back gelding surrounded by tourists in car coats and sneakers. Clover is wearing a red plaid shirt and he has only one eye; the other side of his face is an empty cavern that goes way in there to pink, wrinkled skin-no glass eyeball or black patch or anything, just a hole.

On the back I wrote: "As the one-eyed whore said to the traveling salesman after he nailed her in the socket, 'Hurry on back now, mister. I'll keep an eye out for you.'"

 - - - -

The tide of public opinion swung to my male slut husband, Dothan, after I cut my hair short and took to carrying Dad's gopher popper in my windbreaker pocket. Nine-tenths of the men in Teton County drive around armed to the armpits, but let a woman pack a little Dan Wesson model 12 .357 Magnum with a four-inch, satin blue barrel, and the feed store cronies commence rolling their eyes and gabbing on about the Pierce family tendency to fall off the deep end.

Everybody says you've got to have balls to get respect in this world, but I couldn't help noticing that with that satin blue barrel poking out, the service improved considerably at Kimball's Food Market. The guy at the Esso station moved right along when I said check the oil. Even Dothan cut down on criticizing my dusty kitchen surfaces.

Dad won Charley-that's what I call him-with two pair jacks high at a stock show in Billings. I didn't load Charley with bullets. What I did was pretend he's a penis without a man, which is the only kind I like. Probably some strange psychological word for carrying a disembodied prick in your pocket, but I don't care. Where other people knock on wood, I rub my rod.

Why did I fight the demon? Which leads to why did I drink? Why did the world in all its parts press down on me from every direction until I reached the point of personifying whiskey? "Whisky My Only Friend," "Let Me Go Home, Whisky," "Whisky River Take My Mind," "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," "Tiny Bubbles," "Wine Me Up," "Mean Old Whiskey," "One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall, One Hundred Bottles of Beer."

On my fourteenth birthday, before my first ever period, I had a baby named Shannon. Shannon is now eight and a half and beautiful, living in North Carolina with her natural father because I couldn't take care of her. Let's stress that-because I couldn't take care of her.

My son, Auburn, the light of my dark, frigid nights, started existence by defying the poison of Delfen foam, came out breech, had jaundice at three days and an undeveloped esophagus that wouldn't close for nearly six months. Dothan blamed me, of course, and Auburn has howled at the colossal cheat that is life ever since.

Dad's dead; you know about him.

Mom is a story unto herself. Don't get me started on Mom. She cleans and perfects meat loaf recipes and hums show tunes. Every third year or so she takes her clothes off in public- usually rodeos-and goes to pharmaceutical heaven for a few days, where they give her sponge baths and take the laces out of her shoes. My little brother, Petey, takes care of Mom after these periods, and the very thought of him sponge-bathing her white, droopy body gives me the willies.

Dothan sells real estate. He has the dates and times of all the Kiwanis meetings penciled on his calendar, not because he's a Kiwanian, but because he knows those are safe days to visit the members' wives. That pretty much says it all about my marriage.

I'm making a point here. My downfall can't be blamed on histrionics. In May of 1973, the day it all got up and went, I had as much cause to drink lunch and write picture postcards to a dead father in San Francisco as anyone.

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What People are saying about this

John Nichols
"Sorrow Floats is about a trip you will never want to end. It's blasphemous, cantankerous, full of insight and platfalls and all the relevant human yearnings."
W. P. Kinsella
"Tim Sandlin just keeps getting better and better. Sorrow Floats is funny, raunchy, and heartbreaking."

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