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Greyhound

by Steffan Piper
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Product Details

  • Publisher: AmazonEncore
  • Publishing date: 20/04/2010
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780982555095
  • ISBN: 0982555091

Synopsis

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Steffan Piper

Question: What is Greyhound about?

Steffan Piper: Greyhound is the story of an 11-year-old boy named Sebastien Ranes who is abandoned by his mother. As the book opens, we find her dropping him off in the Stockton, California Greyhound bus station to travel across the country, unaccompanied, to live with his grandmother in Altoona, Pennsylvania--over 2,500 miles away.

Most of the experiences that are in the book are events that actually have taken place in my life. I’ve been working on Greyhound, both in my head and on paper, for about 25 years. I have boxes of journals in my garage detailing many of the stories that are in the book, thoughts I had back then when I was travelling back and forth by bus, and other small details.

Writing about my experiences within the confines of 300 pages wasn’t so easy, but I felt compelled to write about those days. Those years were a very difficult time for me, and pulling a lot of those feelings forward again brought out a lot of emotions that I had buried.

Question: Is the Marcus Franklin character based on a real person?

Steffan Piper: Marcus was a real person that I met on the bus. I’ve thought quite a bit about my encounter with him and the conversations that we had into the middle of the night. When you’re young, it’s the simplest and kindest of gestures that have the most effect and create the most lasting memories. A bag of pretzels can be the equivalent of much more over the passage of time. Not having good role models growing up, I often found myself reaching outward for a guide. Those are often the most dangerous because they have a limit as to what they can give back to you. Those limits are not always visible, especially when you’re young.

Question: Why did you set the book in 1981?

Steffan Piper: I set the book in 1981 because it was a period where life was very different than it is today, and is different in more ways than can be imagined in books or through culture. Some people may not remember it that well, or may not have lived through it, but many have. The most important facet of that time was that it was the beginning of the modern world as we now know it.

The eighties was an era of "analog communication" versus what we have today, which is digital. From telephones to records, everything was analog. People were forced to make more direct links with each other; to reach out, touch and feel the world around them. There was a need to verify the space in front of them. Today’s world seems to ask us repeatedly to do the opposite and not verify our world at all.

Question: Some of the material in the book is pretty heady for an 11-year-old boy turning 12. Got anything to say about that? 

Steffan Piper: I grew up in England and I’m the product of the British educational system, so that will always have an influence on everything that I write.

When I was ten, Sherlock Holmes was my all-time hero. Maybe it was the ease in how he held himself that I found appealing. I think it was the same for Dickens's Twist as well. These were themes I very quickly recognized and latched onto at that age. Shortly after that, when I was 12, reading Carlos Castaneda's books definitely changed my life. The idea of releasing and letting go of your self-image, during a period of my life where I was supposed to be finding that out, was alluring. I gripped onto Castaneda for dear life for about four or five years. I read those books so many times, I probably scared a few counselors at school.

I think when we start thinking as adults that we need to limit material to what we believe young people are capable of, or is normal to them, we immediately have done them a disservice, because most of them would probably shame us in regards to what we know, or think we know.



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  • Wild ride
    From Amazon

    Intriguing story, lots of bus lore and Americana, clever premise. At first the language and insights seem more like an older person, but the boy rider charms you and you can't help worrying as Marcus the ex-con does that he arrives safely. The deviant who lurks in the men's rooms added needed narrative tension, so . . . once he departed, the story lagged a little. A fun easy read.

  • Hated to put it down . . .
    From Amazon

    Loved the descriptions. Loved the characterizations. I truly felt as if I was on this cross-country journey. Great read!

  • Great book for anyone who has ever been 12 years old or ridden on a Greyhound Bus
    From Amazon

    GREYHOUND captures the spirit of a life-altering road-trip in the company of two memorable characters and with incredible, authentic, real-time detail. Sebastien Ranes is 11 years old when he gets on the bus in Stockton, CA and a whole lot older when he disembarks in Altoona, PA three days and one birthday later. His safe arrival, and much of the education he receives en route, are courtesy of the ex-con who befriends him, Marcus Franklin. The dangers facing a young kid traveling alone are brought home in several scenes, most notably one in extremely gripping event in the middle of the book, which threatens to pull the book into very different territory. But once that dangerous situation is resolved, and the bond between Marcus and Sebastien strengthened, the journey continues to its advertised destination. GREYHOUND is a compelling tale. Its claims of being "true" are enhanced by the authenticity and accumulation of observed details, as well as an ending which feels more like "real life" than an attempt to tie everything up in a nice bow for the reader.

  • If Ralphie Road the Bus...
    From Amazon

    I'm a huge fan of "A Christmas Story" based on Jean Shepherd'sIn God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. As I settled into reading Greyhound, I found myself drawing parallels to the narrative voice each of these stories has. Both focus on a young boy, yet the over arching voice has the feel of an older version of the boy's self. While Shepherd indeed told his tale in a recollection way, Piper easily assigns more mature attributes to young Sebastian. I found myself laughing aloud at a number of scenes, including the crazy Frank Burns bus driving. And cringing with the introduction of creepy pedophile Leigh Allen. The relationship that builds between another traveler named Marcus and Sebastian feels genuine and touching. I was constantly intrigued with how Marcus was able to 'grow' Sebastian awareness in the short time they had together. It never felt contrived. The only downsides for me with this reading experience came with an occasional misalignment with what Sebastian 'knows' and doesn't 'know'. For example, he doesn't know the word deferred, yet rejoined is often used as a dialog tag. And given that this is from Sebastian's 12-year old perspective rather than a recollection perspective, I was put off by the use. In fact, I'd have to say that a handful of dialog tag choices were about the only thing that ruffled this reader's feathers throughout the book. Sometimes 'said' is enough. Overall, an engaging read that is likely to draw up childhood memories of some kind or another for any latchkey kid who ever felt their parent(s) were born to given them the cold shoulder.

  • Huck Finn in the Back of the Bus
    From Amazon

    Mark Twain might have died 100 years ago this week but American literature is alive and well and carrying his torch. GREYHOUND is a book in a tradition begun by HUCK FINN in which an American character travels through the American landscape encountering America, its people and ultimately, him or herself. Some of my favorite books in this grand tradition are Steinbeck's TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, Least Heat Moon's BLUE HIGHWAYS and Pirsig's ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE. Add now to the top of the list Steffan Piper's GREYHOUND. Sebastian Ranes is a vulnerable waif of eleven when his heartless mother puts him on a Greyhound bus in Stockton, California. Like Huck Finn, he lacks true parents in every sense of the word. His father has three other children with the woman he has married and has no time for Sebastian. The boyfriend Sebastian's mom is about to marry gives every indication of being an abusive stepfather. Sebastian's mom is sending him to live with his father's parents. He's been there before. But never before has he been expected to make the journey alone. In theory, his aunt and his mother's parents are meeting him at stops along the way. In reality, he's completely dependent on the kindnesses of strangers. Sympathetic waitresses feed him. A Greyhound station manager gives him a warm coat. But it is Marcus Franklin, a black ex-con, who becomes his friend, protector and guide to the sad, mad, adult world that Sebastian encounters. It sounds like bad news, doesn't it? But Marcus hides his secret sorrow and finds healing in introducing Sebastian to the poetry of Langston Hughes and the music of Hall and Oates. Sebastian turns twelve on his long bus ride and takes his first steps into manhood. In his unlikely friendship with Marcus, the reader's faith in human nature is restored and redeemed. "Heartwarming" is an overused word in reviews like this; GREYHOUND lights a flame that will warm your heart and soul. This is one journey you don't want to miss. The bus leaves in five minutes from platform number 2. Now Boarding. Final call.

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