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.
“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 the 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 even work—in Alaska.”
Brendan Jones, author of The Alaskan Laundry
“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 hijacked 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 à 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 fillet 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