A startling new author with an eco-noir of one man's journey of self-discovery on the hike to Hell. "His debut novel is simply brilliant. It is humorous and poignant and above all else, it is an important novel everyone should read." -Charlie Stella, author of Johnny Porno.
|Publisher:||Stark House Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)|
About the Author
Darren R. Leo grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, attending the University of Utah as an English major. After a stint as an army paratrooper, he took an executive job in the hotel industry, eventually moving to nine different states. Inspired by the nature writings of Craig Childs, Leo left hoteling for the Southern New Hampshire University, where he earned an MFA in 2013. Leo has hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail, which inspired to write his first novel. He currently lives in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Trees Beneath Us based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This is a most unusual book. It is as much memoir as it is fiction, for one thing. The introduction includes this quote from Thoreau: “If you are ready to leave father and other, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man: then you are ready for a walk.” The author later says “Would Thoreau be admired if he never left Walden Pond?” The protagonist, Finn, sees himself thusly: “Stubbornness had long been described as one of my greatest attributes or flaws.” As did the author, Finn decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. Early in his trek, he says: “I was reacquainting with the wilderness like running into an old girlfriend I had not seen in years… Thousands of people hiked big chunks of the trail every year. A few hundred would walk its entirety. Some large number of people with packs crossed that highway and disappeared through the cut. Each had a purpose. Some had dreams. All had reasons.” Finn’s reason appears to be contemplation of his life till then, and the natural life around him brings him “occasional moments of clarity and insights.” He is working through grief, love and loss, having lost his job, his health, and his son. A lapsed Catholic, 44 years old, with very mixed feelings about the deity and life itself, Finn has been diagnosed as suffering from depression, bipolar, at times suicidal; he has an ex-wife, what he describes as three or four children, and is living with a woman who loves him and who he loves, Penelope, or Penny, who he refers to as his BSW (beautiful sunny woman). His descriptions of the natural world are gorgeous, e.g., he sees small yellow butterflies hovering “like lemon colored clouds” as well as an “achingly beautiful butterfly that started bright sky blue and faded to deep inky darkness . . . like twilight captured on a wing.” On his journey, which goes on for almost 1,500 miles, over a period of months, during most of which he does not contact any of his family members, he reflects on his past. A running motif seems to be “bad news doesn’t travel through trees.” This is a book which will stay with the reader long after the last page has been read, and it is recommended.
*****Purchased at an author event**** Haunted by the unexplained death of his son and consumed by a painful, debilitating health condition, Finn has lost faith in this world. He sets off on a journey to hike the Appalachian Trail and hopes, in the process, he will be able to find some answers or at least some peace. The farther he goes on his literal journey, the more he disconnects from his life and the woman who loves him. Finding yourself may seem like a good idea, but as Finn realizes, sometimes, when you search for something, you just might find it---and it isn't always what you expected or hoped for. This book is brilliantly written, delves into some very serious subject matter, and gives you a protagonist who is so deep and complex that you will think about him long after putting it down. Darren Leo will make you laugh, and will make you bawl like a baby. I loved this book so much, I bought two extra copies for gifts. It will forever remain on my top ten list of favorites.