A fresh and trippy portrait of the diverse underclass of the commercial fishing industry, Slime Line is a tragicomedy of one college dropout’s attempts to remake himself into a hard-nosed workingman.
Fleeing the aftermath of a bizarre college prank and mourning the death of his deadbeat dad, Garrett Deaver escapes Pennsylvania for a salmon processing plant in remote Alaska, a state he has only known from his father’s stories. There he renames himself Beaver—just like a beaver, he’s “an industrious motherf*cker”—and he connives to become a supervisor at Klak Fancy Salmon, LLC, thinking it will solve his psychological and financial issues. He soon falls in with an entrepreneurial Turkish fish processor and a cynical old woman who mends nets and tells filthy jokes. In these two, he finds solidarity, or even friendship, for the first time in his life.
But the methamphetamines Garrett uses to work long hours delude his thinking, and an old photo on the wall of a bar contradicts his dad’s stories. When sabotage at the plant sets his new friends at odds with management and an ensuing act of violence disrupts his schemes, Garrett is set on a path toward reckoning with his dad’s secret legacy and the mythos of rugged individualism he’d always believed.
Jake Maynard is a fiction writer and essayist from Pennsylvania. He has held a few different jobs in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry. His writing appears in Southern Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Alaska Quarterly Review, the New Republic, the Baffler, the New York Times, and others. Slime Line is his first novel.
“A cult classic is born. Jake Maynard’s inspiring Slime Line is a backward glance at what the American novel could achieve before it got highjacked by English departments. Stumbling through the stinking grist of the salmon processing slums, written with fish-gut fingers, and fueled by an impetuous, chemical verve of prose a la Thom Jones, Slime Line exposes Alaska’s wage-slave work camps via the addled observations of its indefatigable narrator, one Garrett Deaver, a kid wielding a filet knife manically passionate about a job that will leave him beaten, abandoned, and hiding from the police inside a floating trailer park while still attempting to solve the mystery of his father’s death. Sinclair and Steinbeck would applaud this novel’s eye, but it’s Maynard’s outrageous characters loosed upon the Alaskan seacoast that propel Slime Line into page-turning madness. Maynard gets
every word right.”
— Lee Durkee, author of The Last Taxi Driver and Stalking Shakespeare.
“Maynard’s Slime Line is an arresting read that sinks its claws deep into your gut and dares you to blink. It’s a story of hard work, loss, exploitation, and family set against a backdrop of blood, ice, and heavy machinery at an Alaskan fish processing plant peopled by misfits, scoundrels, and ghosts. You’ll never look at a salmon filet the same way again.”
— Kim Kelly, author of Fight Like Hell: The Untold Story of American Labor
“A bold and forceful and glorious book, like a beer bottle smashed to bits over your head, leaving you sticky with glass shards. Jake Maynard’s Slime Line depicts the world how it really is, or one hard slice of it anyway: the puke-inducing Alaskan commercial fishing sector. You’ll learn how to gut a salmon in one chapter, then how to lose a family in the next. In both cases, it’s not pretty. (“Everything,” as Maynard tells it, “comes out clean except for the heart.”) This is an eviscerating read, at once improbably raw and real.”
— Ben Purkert, author of The Men Can’t be Saved
“Slime Line is a deeply compelling novel. Maynard’s energetic prose is as gritty and raw as Alaska itself.”
—Callan Wink, author of August
“There aren’t enough gross books about work. This is a story that hasn’t yet been told, and thank goodness Maynard was in right place to bear witness and tell it. Slime Line is a wild romp, both compelling and educational. It will change how people approach fish processing—and work, even—in Alaska.”
—Brendan Jones, author of The Alaskan Laundry
"Slime Line is a stone-cold winner: a book about the dirty work of capitalism, searching for a missing father, and reckoning with your legacy. It’s full of fish guts and lousy shifts, but it’s also driven by a big, beating heart. I found it impossible to put down. As in all great books, the big catch here is the truth, and Jake Maynard hauls it in, one gorgeous sentence after another. Tender, musical, sad, funny as hell. Read it.”
—Steve Almond, author of All the Secrets of the World and Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow