It took ten years, ten months and an odd number of days from inception of the project to this point, but Booktrope Press has released my debut novel, Dismantle the Sun in paperback. An ebook edition should arrive in the coming days.
From the back cover:
Set against a landscape of snow and spiritual exhaustion, Dismantle the Sun is the wrenching debut novel from Jim Snowden – a novel of love and loss, betrayal and second chances. Hal and Jodie are dyed-in-the-wool academics, devoted inhabitants of a secluded world built for two. Since high school, Jodie has been the central figure in Hal’s world; loving her and being her husband have defined him and given him his purpose. Diagnosed with cancer, Jodie struggles to help Hal learn to live without her, while through repeated remissions and relapses, Hal struggles to hold onto hope. Ultimately, the battle consumes the biggest part of Jodie’s fearsome spirit; exhausted, Hal begins to feel as though the woman he adored is already lost to him. As Hal prepares to say goodbye to his wife, a strikingly perceptive young woman joins his high school mathematics class; incredibly, in Ruth he discovers a kind of connection that he and Jodie have never shared, and a renewed sense of faith in the possibility of happiness. But building a new world with Ruth is not without its share of obstacles and casualties – happiness will require sacrifice, upheaval and pain. Hal is determined to have it, no matter the cost…but then Jodie’s doctor delivers news that up-ends everything he thought his heart was sure of: the cancer has gone into remission. “Jim Snowden is one of the smartest, most talented young writers working today. In Dismantle the Sun he does it all – strong characters, suspense, delicious irony – and with a singularly unique voice and vision.” Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage, winner of the National Book Award.
Charles is too kind; I owe a great deal of this moment to him. If you’re reading this, Charles, may you live to be a million and never owe a dime.
I’d also like to thank my most patient readers: Doug Heckman and Neil Sherk. They kept me honest.
Obviously, I’d like to thank Ken Shear, Susan Ethridge and the entire creative team at Booktrope for turning a large pile of pages into a book (with a handsome cover, I must say).
And bigger than life thanks to Venice Buhain, who I imagine mystifies her friends no end by putting up with me.
And of course I’d like to thank me, without whom this never would have happened.
After a odyssey as long as this (Odysseus’s voyage back to Ithaca didn’t take this frigging long), it’s hard to conjure up exhilaration. I might have felt that way if I’d managed to take the novel to market back in the mid-2000s, as I’d hoped to do. But that didn’t work out and since then, in addition to all the revising, querying, networking, and synopsis writing, I started two businesses, taught students, made money, lost money, hit serious debt, and endured hard times. I turned forty. I went gray. I went to New Orleans with my Dad twice, before the hurricane and again four years after. And last year I saw my Mom deal as heroically as she could with my Dad’s debilitating stroke. Now that Dismantle the Sun is finally available (for $14.95, eligible for Super Saver Shipping from Amazon, bet you can’t buy ten), exhilaration feels wrong, cheap, and silly. Instead, I’m grateful for the help I’ve had getting it here and relieved that I can finally move past the problem of publishing the book and take on the problem of getting people to read it.
Excitement I’ll save for my new projects, which I can now work on without Dismantle the Sun clamoring for further attention. The time next year, if anyone asks me about DTS I plan to respond with the words of Edna Mode, “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.”
So it’s out. Good. Go buy the damned thing. Now.