Sunday, January 17, 2016

Seeking The Man Behind the Icon: Lay Down Your Weary Tune by W. B. Belcher

I was intrigued by this novel about a folk singer and a young writer's searching for the man behind the mask. The great cover was another incentive!

Jack Wyeth's youthful idolization of protest folk singer Eli Page lead him to discard a conventional life of college and career to pursue music. Now at thirty years old, his music career non-existent, Jack blogs about folk music and sleeps on his married friend's couch. Then he gets an unexpected call offering the chance of a lifetime: Eli Page, now a recluse, has agreed to his agent's suggestion to let Jack ghostwrite Eli's memoir.

But nothing is what is seems. Eli is losing touch with reality and won't talk about his work or past. Eli's agent is putting on the pressure for assignment completions on the memoir. Jack finds himself invading Eli's privacy in a desperate search to discover the man behind the mask. Meanwhile, Eli is accused of being behind a series of local crimes. And Jack falls for an artist, Jenny, with a mysterious past and unspoken ties to Eli.

Jack, Eli, and Jenny struggle with their own demons that divide them from each other, each needing to come to terms with their past to trust revealing themselves wholly.

The music behind the story is the folk music of the 50s, 60s, and 70s--Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger--protest and roots music.

The story's action takes place on the farm Eli has retired to, situated in a small town suspicious of outsiders. Much of the action is internal and relational until the climax, and yet the story has a way of propelling the reader along.

I have read quite a few novels lately dealing with the need to face one's demons in the journey to grow personally and in relations to others. This story doesn't flinch from the depression and self-doubt of abandonment, loss, and failure. It does offer examples of people struggling with to reach out and bridge the things that divide us.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Lay Down Your Weary Tune
W. B. Belcher
Other Press
$17.95 paperback
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
ISBN: 9781590517468

A heartening, timeless, and stirring song for the ‘perfectly broken.’ Beautifully thrownback. Openhanded. True. W.B. Belcher is my kind of writer.
— Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and LOVE MAY FAIL