David Armand, a Louisiana native, is associate editor for Louisiana Literature. His first novel, The Pugilist's Wife, published by Texas Review Press in 2011 won the George Garrett Fiction Prize. He lives near Hammond with his wife and children. Harlow is his second novel.
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Harlow: A Novel
Harlow tells the story of 18-year-old Leslie Somers, who trudges his way through the dark Louisiana backwoods one winter in search of his father. As he walks through the woods, Leslie thinks of the other male role models in his life — the men who took him hunting and fishing as well as the men who mistreated him.
Because Leslie was forsaken by his mother, he can only imagine a life with this man he has never met — his father, Harlow Cagwin. But when Leslie finally finds Harlow, the man is not what the boy expected.
The two end up on a crash course toward destruction, crime and twisted relationships that will leave one of them dead and the other a hardly recognizable version of his former self.
Q & A
What is the most important lesson readers can learn from your book Harlow?
I hope that readers take away a sense of hope from this book. Even though some of the events it depicts are dark; in some ways, the novel is ultimately about redemption and the need for hope.
What motivated you to tell this story?
This is the most personal book I've written to date: it's largely autobiographical, though it's veiled in fiction. I, like the young boy in the novel, did not know my father until I was much older, and I thought it was important to share that story: a boy's search for his father. Truly, it's an archetypal story, but one that deserves retelling.
What was the most enjoyable part of the process of writing this book?
The most enjoyable part of any project for me are those unexpected moments when a character reveals something about him or herself that completely surprises me. I never work with outlines or any idea of where a book is going to go, so it is those surprising moments that are as exhilarating for me as I hope they are for the reader.
What excites you about the festival?
I love meeting passionate readers and writers. It reminds me time and time again why I do what I do. Writing is a lonely business, but coming out into the world with your work and meeting its audience is almost magical. The Louisiana Book Festival provides that experience every year.
What should people look forward to by coming to your presentation at the festival?
I usually give a great deal of background information about my writing process as well as where I get my ideas (something all readers seem to ask). For this book, since it is largely autobiographical, readers will probably learn a lot more about me than they'd ever want to know!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Harlow is told in an unconventional narrative style, but I find that readers appreciate the fast pace of the book and are generally not distracted by the somewhat experimental prose.
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