TEMPLE GROVE

Scott Elliott

Temple Grove is about a young part-Makah man named Paul, who loves Olympic National Park. He spends hours on the trails, and off the trails, learning about the place that has so thoroughly captured his heart. When he becomes concerned about the future of a stand of unprotected very old trees near the park, Paul makes a point to protect them, perhaps with disastrous consequences.

But this is also the story of his mother, Trace, who faces every day the heavy weight of her past and the secret that she has kept from her son.

And it’s the suspenseful story of what happens when Paul discovers a gyppo logger threatening the majestic trees that he has committed himself to saving.

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Temple Grove is about a young part-Makah man named Paul, who loves Olympic National Park. He spends hours on the trails, and off the trails, learning about the place that has so thoroughly captured his heart. When he becomes concerned about the future of a stand of unprotected very old trees near the park, Paul makes a point to protect them, perhaps with disastrous consequences.

But this is also the story of his mother, Trace, who faces every day the heavy weight of her past and the secret that she has kept from her son.

And it’s the suspenseful story of what happens when Paul discovers a gyppo logger threatening the majestic trees that he has committed himself to saving.

This is a book about redemption, place, identity, and roots. It’s about the collision of worlds. It’s about the ways in which community shapes us. It’s a beautifully written novel about a beautiful place and about the beautiful, fragile love people carry for one another.

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  • The University of Washington Press
  • Hardcover
  • May 2013
  • 264 Pages
  • 9780295992808

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$28.95

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About Scott Elliott

Scott Elliott grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. His first novel Coiled in the Heart (BlueHen/Putnam, 2003) was a Booksense 76 Selection, a Literary Guild alternate selection, and a finalist in two award categories for The Texas Institute of Letters. The novel was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition with Bob Edwards and was chosen for the 2005 American Library of Congress sponsored One-Community-One-Campus-One-Book celebration in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Scott’s essays and short stories have been published in several literary and other journals including the Antioch Review, The New York Times, the Louisville Review, Juked, Mayday, Forklift Ohio, Hawk and Handsaw, the Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. His collection of short stories Return Arrangements was a 2009 finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction.

In 2011 he was awarded the G. Thomas Edwards Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship at Whitman College, where he is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and English. In 2012 he founded the Walla Walla Whitman Imaginative Writing Partnership, which places talented Whitman undergraduate writers in public schools. He lives in Walla Walla, Washington with his family.

Praise

“Just as axes find the oldest wood, so does the novel find its characters’ oldest secrets….A roaming third-person narration allows many back stories, current desires and preoccupations to form a robust canopy in the novel. This makes the climax not just a single moment of action or revelation, but the playing out of each character’s story, their confrontations with themselves and each other, secrets at the fore, no more illusions.”The Oregonian

“Like Alan Heathcock and Benjamin Percy, Scott Elliott writes from that place where the old myths and the new stories collide. In Temple Grove, he reminds us of what it means to be lost to everyone and everything we have ever loved…and to be found again. It is a story of longing, cruelty, forgiveness, and redemption, shot through with intimate descriptions of a land on the cusp of ruin that will break your heart with their beauty.”

Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men

“…profound and sensitive…. Human concerns are imbedded within the rhythms of nature, and the traditions of Trace’s Makah tribe resonate within her and her son as in Elliot’s writing. Contemplative, secretive, a novel of the earth, its people and filial relationships, Temple Grove presents a surprisingly broad cast of ordinary men and women representing all walks of life, all sharing the fact of inner conflict.”Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Tribal culture, environmental concerns, and the need for work in a land where beauty won’t put food on the table lead to adventurous encounters, dangerous forest pursuits, and questions that mothers will take to their book clubs to discuss.”Hungry for Good Books

Discussion Questions

What is the significance of Tracy’s nickname being Trace?

In what ways do worlds collide in Temple Grove?

Discuss the presentation of the loggers’ views and the views of the environmentalists.

Worlds begin and end in Temple Grove. Discuss how.

How important to the plot are secrets?

Does this novel make you think about worship and faith—what it means, how we practice it, and how we treat others whose perspective may be different than ours?

Who in this novel is redeemed? Who is forgiven?

Was Bill “born again” when he emerged from the crevasse?

Can this novel be classified as environmental fiction?

In the end of the novel, Paul finds his voice. Could he have done this without chasing his father through the Olympics?

How integral is place to identity?

Could this novel take place anywhere else?

There are at least three, arguably four, fathers to Paul in this novel. How does this novel present fatherhood?

Discuss the use of music in this novel.

Did you have favorite lines in this novel? Which lines did you underline? How do those reflect the major themes of the story?

What role does the octopus Pishpish play in the story?

What is the significance to the step-father’s job? What is the significance to his melt-down?

What does this book say about wisdom and certainty? Quoting page 148, “A guy could make it to thirty-eight – an age at which you thought when you were still a boy you’d have everything figured out and the world on a string – and still feel you didn’t know a god-damned thing. All ages must be like this once you reached them – dim husks in comparison to the glowing prospect for wisdom and certainty they’d presented when you were young.” (Contributed by Trina from Hungry for Good Books.com)

Discuss Trace as a mother and how she encouraged Paul’s wonder and curiosity. On page 75 when Trace tells Paul about eons and says “So many you couldn’t count that high – even if you counted for the rest of your life.” He walked ahead of her, erratically counting the numbers he knew, and she wished him time enough to count an eon.” (Contributed by Trina from Hungry for Good Books.com)

What does this book say about loyalty?