LAY DOWN YOUR WEARY TUNE

W B Belcher

In this debut novel, a ghostwriter of the memoirs of a reclusive folk music icon—part Woody Guthrie, part Bob Dylan—attempts to glean fact from fiction, only to discover the deeper he digs into the musician’s past, the more his own past rises to the surface

Despite his fame, Eli Page is a riddle wrapped in a myth, inside decades of mask-making. His past is so shrouded in gossip and half-truths that no one knows who he is behind the act. Jack Wyeth, a budding writer, joins Eli in Galesville, a small town on the border of New York and Vermont,

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In this debut novel, a ghostwriter of the memoirs of a reclusive folk music icon—part Woody Guthrie, part Bob Dylan—attempts to glean fact from fiction, only to discover the deeper he digs into the musician’s past, the more his own past rises to the surface

Despite his fame, Eli Page is a riddle wrapped in a myth, inside decades of mask-making. His past is so shrouded in gossip and half-truths that no one knows who he is behind the act. Jack Wyeth, a budding writer, joins Eli in Galesville, a small town on the border of New York and Vermont, only to learn that the musician’s mind is failing. As he scrambles to uncover the truth, Jack is forced to confront his own past, his own hang-ups, and his own fears. At the same time, he falls for a local artist who has secrets of her own, he becomes linked to a town controversy, and he struggles to let go of his childhood idols and bridge the divide between myth and reality.

Set against a folk Americana aesthetic, Lay Down Your Weary Tune is an emotionally charged exploration of myth-making, desire, and regret, and the inescapable bond between the past and present.

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  • Other Press
  • Paperback
  • January 2016
  • 352 Pages
  • 9781590517475

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About W B Belcher

W. B. Belcher grew up in western Massachusetts and earned his MFA from Goddard College. He lives along the Battenkill River in upstate New York with his wife and two kids. Lay Down Your Weary Tune is his first novel.

Praise

“[A] richly textured novel about folk music…Belcher brings the folk music scene to life, but best of all is his ability to craft a cast of memorable characters.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Appealing…Mingling elements from both literature and the blues, Belcher has crafted a memorable tale about how the masks and myths we create can become prisons that ultimately disconnect us from ourselves.” —Library Journal

“This story will pluck countless heartstrings.” —Booklist

“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

Discussion Questions

When speaking of Eliza, Eli Page tells Jack, “That’s all I had of

my daughter. The name” (p 343). What is the importance of

names in this novel? Is there any significance to Jack’s name?

On page 237 Eli tells Jack “I wasn’t who they wanted me to

be.” Who is the “they” Eli is referring to? Does Jack have certain

expectations of who Eli should be? Does Eli live up to them?

How does Jack’s knowledge or idea of who Eli is change over

the course of the novel?

Jack says of his father, “John James Wyeth was an idea, a

waking dream” (p 302). Who else in Lay Down Your Weary

Tune is an idea? Do any of the characters ever become more

than “an idea,” and if so, how?

On page 164 Jenny tells Jack, “I have to play the part.” Why

do you think Jenny feels she has to maintain a role that is not

the reality of who she is? Who created the role for Jenny, and

whom does the role appease or please? Describe the ways

other characters in the novel, such as Casey, Eli, and Jack, play

designated roles.

Jack twice calls Eli a “trickster” (see pp 46, 368). In what

ways does Eli fulfill the archetype of the trickster? At the end of

the novel Eli disappears. Do you believe he’s still alive?

How are Jack and Eli similar? How do they help each other

and change together over the course o the novel? On page 340

Eli tells Jack “That’s what I’ve got to give.” What does Jack give

to Eli? To Jenny?

On page 322 Jack observes, “[Jenny had] endured far worse

and with far more grace.” Why do you think this novel is

narrated by Jack and not by Jenny, or Eli himself? How might

the novel have changed if another character were narrating it?

On page 356 Jack says, “I guess we’re all forced to make

decisions—some of them pan out, others don’t.” What choices

does Jack face and what decisions does he make?

On page 284 Jack compares being a storyteller to being a liar.

What do you make of this, considering his object in writing

about Eli is to “provide a note of truth” (p 5)? Do you think Jack

himself could be a trickster?

Are there any musicians or artists who have influenced

your life the way Eli Page has influenced Jack’s? If you could

spend some months living with an artist, who would it be and

why?