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“There’s a line that runs alongside our ordinary lives, just beyond the grind of things. Jason Beem’s novel Southbound derails your ordinary life and shoots you into the thrill, rush, and dark brutal truths of gambling and racing. And he doesn’t flinch. A glorious and visceral book. I sweat reading it.”–Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase.
“A gritty fearless portrayal of a man in the midst of a gambling breakdown. A relapse to end all relapses. It’s as horrifying as it is intense and written with a lean sharp eye.”-–Willy Vlautin, author of The Free and The Motel Life
“Jason Beem’s Southbound begins with the drama of a close horse race — and it never lets up from there. Beem has written a smart, perceptive novel — one that is about the difficulties of addiction and recovery — but also about the yearning for love, and the ways people fill the vacancies in their lives. It’s saturated with the sensory joys of the race track, and a pleasure to read.” —Pauls Toutonghi, Pushcart Prize winning author of Evel Knievel Days and Red Weather
Southbound is a novel. It’s a fiction book, however, there is a ton of my story in there. Essentially Southbound began as a journal entry. I stopped betting back on December 5, 2010 as gambling had really taken over all aspects of my life. It was the only thing I dedicated my time and attention to. Fast forward a few years, and in the Summer of 2012, I was thinking about how it would play out if I ever started up again. I had saved up some money, didn’t have a lot going on, and had always fascinated about heading south to California or Las Vegas to try and live as a full-time gambler. So instead of actually doing it, I played it out through the eyes of Ryan McGuire, who is very much me. There are certainly some differences between myself and Ryan, in some ways good, in some ways bad. But in the end, the journey and fantasy are how I think things would play out. I’m very proud of it and think that it’s not only a really close look into the world of a gambler, but also someone struggling with loss, anxiety and gripping to the one familiar thing in their life.