July 15, 2008

An Excerpt...

Been working on a novel and finding it excruciating at times. Thought I'd post a benign enough excerpt for the two or three of you that actually come by and read this blog every once in awhile.

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Spartan leans against the American border like an unwanted immigrant. Two crossings on either side of town, two rivers that swell into each other and glide south. All things migrate. The largest mountain in the valley, Galena, a pock-faced chunk of rock rising a mile into the sky, is more American than Canadian. Locals cross into the States for shopping, gas, excursions to commit less-honorable deeds at Indian Reservations. The local pulp-mill trucks raw lumber across daily, stacked on the backs of groaning, dusty machines.

When the dry scrub under pine trees combusts from Summer's heat, both sides of the border eye their lines warily, waiting for the flames to find their way across the forty-ninth parallel, change ownership.

Spartan is disconnected from the big cities. It bleeds into America with its rivers. Draft-dodgers from the Vietnam War catch the evening breezes funneling up from a home country no longer their own, sitting at the windows of homes built on the easy slopes of Fife. Hunters and farmers come down from the mountains and drink at pubs with names like Longhorn or Prospector. Fights are brief, vicious. A mouth fish-hooked, an eye-socket caved in, the collision of knuckle on teeth.

Churches are full on Sunday mornings, transgressions suppressed behind neckties, confined under dresses. Words spread. Heads turn. A person avoids a certain grocery store for awhile, buys their prescriptions at an alternate pharmacy.

Old Doukhobors drink coffee at a local bistro, growl about sky-rocketing prices, the way nothing is ever as good as the day before. Kids ride bikes, shoot at small animals with pellet guns, collect bottles to exchange for Bazooka Joe gum and Willy Wonka's Wax Lips. The world is small, yet absurdly macroscopic. A landscape of tension felt by young and old alike but never articulated. Lovers hold hand as they walk to the tree-lined banks of the river in City Park. There, hands move to more intimate places, a girl cries out in pleasure and loss. Pleasure and loss and a lack. Spartan.

9 comments:

Sam said...

I like it, Harry. Especially the fights at the Longhorn.

Is this the opening?

Possible title: This is Spartan! With 'Spartan' drawn out about nine syllables. No takers? Aw...

Anyway, Keep it up.

Harry Tournemille said...

Hey, thanks Sam. Yes, opening sequence before we get into the story. How can you tell I've been reading too much Steinbeck?

Yeah, the name of the town...Spartan. I was thinking more of the apple orchards in the Kootenays and Okanagan, but am aware of the similarity to that wretched film 300.

Which is, by the way, my all time least favorite film. Sucks heinous amounts of sack.

Sandra said...

I was just about to say that this piece is sounding like the opening of a steinbeck novel (seeing as I just started reading east of eden this morning). Anyways, it looks like I am right about your influences. I am waiting to read the rest of your novel, you have definitely roped me in! Keep it coming :)

Harry Tournemille said...

Another paid add by Dear Wifey. Chortle.

Sam said...

Have you read Steinbeck's Journals? A must-read. He kept notes all through the writing of Grapes of Wrath. He was very honest about his writing talent, the problems he faced.

And 300 may be racist and homophobic and fascist and stupid, but you gotta give it points for spearing that elephant off a cliff. Splat. Yes, I have very low movie standards.

Been said...

Wicked Larry, I totally knew it was GF when you talked about the rivers swelling into one another. Cool discription. And by the way ther are way more than just a few readers on your blog.

Lady Oracle said...

I haven't visited in a while, and I must say, I love this piece. I will be in line to purchase your novel when it's ready for selling! Keep it up!

Harry Tournemille said...

Hey, thanks for the kind words. Such an arduous task, completing the first draft--something I'm sure you know all about. Cheers.

Harry Tournemille said...

You might also be interested in my other blog on being a stay-at-home-dad: http://papaharry.wordpress.com/