My first novel, Grinning White Teeth was released yesterday via the printer’s website. Follow the link to purchase. Thre months after completion, and I’ve come to term it my “demo tape”.
Featuring the artistic talents of Adam Geen on the cover, GWT follows the story of Cassius Hall, an Olympic caliber drug user and semi-functional human. Cass is crushed when his estranged best friend, the famed Jennifer Belle, dies of a gruesome overdose. Determined to stop the carnivorous “American Death Cult”, Cassius sets out to tell his best friend´s story before the cultural assembly line can get it´s hooks into her. When it´s discovered that a biopic about Jennifer is being developed, Cassius turns to the people closest to her to paint a picture of what celebrity really gets you.
Working on my next project, The American Literary Firearm Society. Excerpt below:
I first joined the American Literary Firearm Society on a cool fall evening three years ago, sitting at my desk with a fifth of whiskey and a painfully new Kimber .45 ACP. The grip still smelled of freshly pressed rubber, the clip was slick and smooth with machine oil. I had drained the bottle of whiskey quicker than usual, aggressively pouring refill after refill. The glass was clear and flawless, a ring of brown courage left at the bottom.
I counted off to myself, a second for each round I had loaded into the clip. One, two, three, four. I declared a spiritual war. Five, six, seven, eight. Time to dissociate. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Hope it’s nice tonight in Hell. Thirteen, fourteen, and one more in the chamber.
The gun cracked a tooth as it slid passed my lips, the pain was momentary and minor. The barrel angled upward, the sight scraping the roof of my mouth. Behind me, Hemingway and Thompson were cheering me on. They had been cheering me on for weeks. They founded the fucking group. ‘American Literary’ equals authors. ‘Firearm Society’ equals gun lovers. That is, American authors who’ve blown their brains out. I felt like I was starting a trend.
Trigger back, hammer down.
The amount of pressure from those two wasn’t much. Correctly applied, but minimal. I had spent fifteen years as an author, slugging it out, struggling to keep myself afloat. There were successes, wild and exuberant successes. Fantastic moments of triumph ringing out into the night. Successes that burned out, as did my marriage, and receded into the past with my money, my property, and my hairline. Then one misstep – “box office poison” they’d call it – and suddenly no editor would touch me.
Word gets around Manhattan quickly. I tried to sneak new work in under different pseudonyms. I wrote as Nicholas Cheney, Henry Pallas, Paul Darcy, Anton Holst. I’d leave my earlier work off of queries, and still they’d figure it out. Each rejection would start, “Dear Jack Harker.” I’d continue to read it in my own words. “You are a loser, who deserves to lay in traffic. Your work won’t sell, so we’re not interested, you hack piece of shit. Please go end your life and stop killing trees, because we are a ‘green company’ now, and we would rather you don’t send us giant manuscripts that we’re going to reject without a glance.”
Twelve manuscripts, running the gamut from genre to literary fiction, Post Modern to Southern Gothic, now collecting dust in small little packages in my office closet. I should have burned them before I buried the Armscor full metal jacket 45 in my skull. I had a feeling that no good would come from leaving them behind.
Thompson screamed and bitched at me to quit crying like a little girl. Hemingway laughed and told me to go get a hunting rifle like a real man. So I pulled the trigger. The force from the bullet exiting the top of my head jerked my body up and back. The two welcomed me with open arms to the Society. I asked them, “What now?” Hemingway turned away from me. Thompson smiled and bit hard on his cigarette holder and said “Now we get more.”
So we did.
No one notices our kind. We are faceless, names on spines stacked next to each other endlessly in bookstores. We have voices, essentially our whole identity, but we’re ethereal things. The most narcissistic of us stuffed into designer black clothing in a very well managed black and white photo on the back flap. You might recognize one or two on the street. You’ll miss five more when you stop to look. We are anonymous. No one bats an eye when five, ten, fifteen, failed writers pick up guns and end themselves in a year.
The Society grew bloated with souls. Leah Whitman, the narcissist, wanted everyone to watch. She threw a dinner party. At 10:00 PM on the dot she stood atop her long oak dinner table, pressed a Glock to her head, and sprayed her brains all over her guests. Gregory London, the psychotic, took a hostage with a flat head screwdriver. He committed suicide by deliberately enticing Milwaukee’s finest. Stellan Faulkner, the obsessive compulsive, spent thirteen months picking the weapon, the bullet, the day, and time of his suicide. He covered his living room in two blue tarps, called his parents, carefully taped his suicide note on the front door, undressed, and meticulously folded his clothes before he wrapped his lips around a Browning Maxus Stalker.
Each had reasons for wanting to die. Each hung around with the three of us for a time before moving on to wherever. Now we make it a habit to meet once every six months, bringing new faces with us. A simple enough task for the motivated. They call it “The Sylvia Plath Effect”, a curious correlation between writers and mental illness. As if writing only attracts the unstable.
Now it’s up to me to find the new kid.