A young homeowner renovating a once-proud three-story house in midtown Memphis discovers an old notebook buried beneath bulging bricks in a backyard patio. The notebook is wrapped in a yellow rain slicker stuffed inside a crumbling newspaper carrier’s bag.
The moldy notebook at first appears to contain handwritings of different people, but the homeowner soon realizes the writer is a 13-year-old boy who took over a friend’s paper route for a month in the summer of 1959.
The 45-year-old notebook, comprising the bulk of the novel, tells of events that month, including the boy’s first sexual encounter, a fatal throat slashing and the story of a mysterious man who tips the paperboy each week with a piece of a dollar bill, each quarter of the bill containing a different word starting with “s”. The boy’s companion on this month-long journey is the family housekeeper who knows more than those around her realize.
The notebook is written in the boy’s dysfunctional but unencumbered speech that includes non-words, comedic turns of phrase and a unique love-hate relationship with language.
The climax for the reader involves the surprise connection between the homeowner and the 13-year-old boy.
A central theme of “A Quartering of Souls” is the convoluted ways in which we attempt to communicate. Sub-themes include a fresh look at the segregated South, the pathology of a speech impediment and a discordant look at several literary classics.
This is a description of the book; it's not a hook. We've been raking you over the coals since Crapometer 1 so one thing I can say in your favor: you've got a distinctive story cause I remember it.
Talk about the story. Use the XYZ form to help you focus. Leave OUT the description of what the writing is like. If you can carry it off we'll figure it out when we're reading the pages.