THE BOOK: American Sycamore.
PUBLISHED IN: 2014
THE AUTHOR: Karen Fielding
THE EDITOR: Penny Thomas
THE PUBLISHER: Seren Books, Seren is Wales’ leading independent literary publisher. Seren books are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across the UK and America.
SUMMARY: American Sycamore is off-beat literary fiction about a bunch of losers and floaters living by a riverscape in 1970’s America. It’s a funny and fractious narrative about not fitting-in. American Sycamore won The Independent Publisher’s Gold Award in 2015 for Best Fiction in the mid-Atlantic states.
THE BACK STORY: One day it struck me how I move house a lot, from one river to another. Then I thought about all the experiences and personalities swirling and lurking around each river and then I thought the river I know best was my childhood own, the Susquehanna River, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I thought I’d dock the canoe in my own mind there and start writing from the “what I know” perspective or at least, what I think I might know.
The book took me eight years to write. I have no excuse for that other than I am a terrible procrastinator and have a perfectionist streak which consigned most sentences and paragraphs to the delete key.
WHY THIS TITLE?: I remember a book by Tama Janowitz called “American Dad” and I literally stole half her title.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?
Readers who appreciate an easy-going read might like American Sycamore.
REVIEW COMMENTS: American Sycamore by Karen Fielding (now in pbk); Karen Fielding’s Blog – ISABEL HUGGAN – January 10, 2014 23:37; Karen Fielding’s Blog – San Francisco Book Review – January 10, 2014 23:44
AUTHOR PROFILE: Born in Philadelphia, I grew up along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I attended the area schools and graduated bottom of my class. Then I went to Boston University where concepts and ideas discussed in philosophy, literature, and symbolism in fine art lifted me out of the usual academic malaise and into something fantastic. I read Lionel Trilling and Richard Brautigan, Albert Camus and Karl Marx. I wanted to write a book like “Trout Fishing in America” because I had never read anything like it before — nor since.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: The protagonist, Billy Sycamore, really did love to fish. He wanted to fit-in to life around him and within him but sometimes, for some of us, it’s just not that straightforward. I think a point I hoped to make with American Sycamore was that it’s the simplest things in life, like fishing, that can bring joy and fill the existential void. Fishing is a metaphor for finding peace without drama. Our world imposes on us every single day to have more be better be the best. Some of us thrive under the pressure; and some of us don’t. American Sycamore is about what can happen when society’s expectations become mostly self-destructive.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Waterstones, UK
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: American Sycamore at amazon uk or amazon com
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:Karen Fielding’s Blog