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In this debut novel, a ghostwriter of the memoirs of a reclusive folk music icon—part Woody Guthrie, part Bob Dylan—attempts to glean fact from fiction, only to discover the deeper he digs into the musician’s past, the more his own past rises to the surface
Despite his fame, Eli Page is a riddle wrapped in a myth, inside decades of mask-making. His past is so shrouded in gossip and half-truths that no one knows who he is behind the act. Jack Wyeth, a budding writer, joins Eli in Galesville, a small town on the border of New York and Vermont, only to learn that the musician’s mind is failing. As he scrambles to uncover the truth, Jack is forced to confront his own past, his own hang-ups, and his own fears. At the same time, he falls for a local artist who has secrets of her own, he becomes linked to a town controversy, and he struggles to let go of his childhood idols and bridge the divide between myth and reality.
Set against a folk Americana aesthetic, Lay Down Your Weary Tune is an emotionally charged exploration of myth-making, desire, and regret, and the inescapable bond between the past and present.
|Publisher:||Other Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
W. B. Belcher grew up in western Massachusetts and earned his MFA from Goddard College. He lives along the Battenkill River in upstate New York with his wife and two children. Lay Down Your Weary Tune is his first novel.
Read an Excerpt
It’s been two months, nineteen days, and twenty-one hours since Eli was last seen, walking alongside the road in a wild summer storm. Several witnesses reported that he was stumbling, unfazed by the headlights, detached from all earthly endeavors.
The river went over its banks that night. The town flooded, as it’s prone to do when the heavens break open. After the water receded, the village put aside its differences and worked with a common purpose: find the lost man. We employed bloodhounds to catch his scent, sifted through every inch of the Battenkill from Galesville to Easton, swept the land from the village proper to the fairgrounds. Found nothing. No sign of him. The national media grew restless. With their awkward satellite trucks, they reported on the search while peddling Eli’s legacy, prompted by obituaries written well before Eli Page disappeared. Seven weeks in, attention spans fizzled, the bloodhounds caught a new case, volunteers dwindled, and I was left wondering how it could have ended the way it did.
Time marches on and we all wait for some sort of revelation. We look for miracles in the small things. We look for answers in wool caps and leather satchels, but answers are hard to come by these days.
So here I am, slumped over the harvest table in the center of Eli’s farmhouse, a house that has been a port in the most frustrating and beautiful storm of my life, and I’m determined to write it all down, to contribute in some small way to our collective understanding of Eli Page and maybe, just maybe, provide a note of truth to a composition famously built on lies.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Lay Down Your Weary Tune" is a beautifully written novel about the masks that we all wear and the search for the truth behind those masks, set to the tune of an old folk song. Jack Wyeth, the book's narrator, is hired to ghost write the life story of reclusive folk music icon Eli Page, who, upon leaving the public eye suddenly and without explanation years before, has been retreated to a seemingly random small town in Upstate New York. Jack struggles to tell Eli's story, while Eli makes it clear that he has interest in anything but revisiting his past. Upon meeting his idol, Jack is hoping to find answers - not only for the purpose of uncovering more details about a musician he has idolized since his youth, but he also (mistakenly) hopes that Eli will somehow point him on the right path for his own somewhat misdirected life. It soon becomes clear that Eli's mental faculties are failing, and the more Jack tries to discover about Eli, the more he uncovers about himself, his own past, and his budding relationship with a local artist named Jenny, who has problems of her own. The seemingly idyllic small town of Galesville is also a main character, as it helps shape not only Jack, Eli, and Jenny, but also serves a backdrop for a larger conflict that has been quietly brewing under the surface. Belcher 's characters feel at once familiar while leaving plenty of surprises for the reader - and the characters themselves - to discover along the way. The portrait he paints of Galesville is the same, and he masterfully captures the intricacies, familiarities, and conflicting ideals that make up small town life. The story of Jack, Eli, Jenny, and Galesville hits all the right notes and, like an old folk song, tells a story of reinvention, rediscovery, and in the end, the tragedy and struggle behind the masks we all wear in even the simplest lives. Layered and true, this book is worthy of reading and re-reading, and then passing along. Whether a fan of folk music or just interested in lyrically beautiful storytelling, this debut novel cements Belcher as an author to keep an eye on.