It is early 1950s Idaho and the season of the Chinook—a warm February wind that blows across the flat cookie-sheet plains from the wrong direction. It brings arid earth and hard times, marking the end of childhood for thirteen-year-old Jake Weber and the beginning of trouble for his family. When Jake defies his father’s order to stay away from the river, an innocent swim ends with something far beyond anyone’s expectations: Jake witnesses the brutal murder of “that woman Sugar Babe” by Harold Endicott, who owns the mortgage on the Weber farm. Jake is forbidden to speak of it and name the one responsible, even as the woman’s lover, a black man, is falsely accused. Over the course of a long hot summer, this crime and its devastating aftermath forever alter Jake’s vision of his parents and his world, teaching him the true source of danger. And the true power of forbidden knowledge.
The Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for Outstanding Contributions to Oregon’s Literary Life
Literary Arts Oregon Book Awards
The designer behind every Hawthorne book
Adam McIsaac: CREATIVE DIRECTOR / Hawthorne Books
Forty-one books, on subjects ranging from Portland food to lobotomies: that’s the entire oeuvre of Hawthorne Books since the small...Forward
“WE MUST LOOK INWARD AT THE WILDERNESS.”
I’m always writing things down on slips of paper. One day, I found this quotation on a slip of paper laying on my writing desk. The problem with the quote I’m about to give you is that I have no idea...Forward
Ghoncheh Azadeh: Was there a specific experience that drove you to write?
Tom Spanbauer: I started writing when I was just a kid. In the eighth grade I won a contest for writing an essay on John Barry, father of the American Navy. I was always a...Forward
What can a single human being hope to achieve in one lifetime? How do we know our lives have mattered? Is it in the work we do, the people we touch, the love we allow ourselves to experience? To write about an authentic life, to write dangerously,...Forward
Imagine going to a party and someone is there to take you in hand, guide you though the room, and introduce you to the guests. These introductions increase the odds that even the most timid wallflower will have a good time. We want our authors to...Forward
In 2005 the Wordstock Festival launched in Portland, Oregon, and I immediately volunteered. Extraordinary writers participated: Russell Banks, John Irving, Norman Mailer, Pam Houston, Susan Orlean, Alice Sebold, Sarah Vowell, and many others. Night...Forward
The thing about Tom Spanbauer is—he is the real deal. There are others who think they are—but they’re not. Spanbauer is and he’s not going to be the one to tell you about it.
Faraway Places, Tom Spanbauer’s first novel, is not enormously long, but it is a big book. And it is masterly – a near perfect book. Built upon keen observations of human behavior – ranging from God, to farming, the scent of one’s father, the magic of sex and the exact number of steps from here to there – there is enormous originality, drama and spirit to this tale. It is a family drama with a pitch perfect crescendo. The story is hypnotic, mesmerizing, delicately brilliant – and so well made. While you are lulled by the language and the characters, the storyline builds and then like a well timed firework explodes – surprising, enthralling, captivating.
- A.M. Homes
- Author of This Book Will Save Your Life
A taut, brutal narrative … that comes to hypnotize, shimmering like the brilliant sun on the alfalfa fields.
- The New York Times Book Review
Forceful and moving … Spanbauer tells his short, brutal story with delicacy and deep respect for place and character.
- Publishers Weekly