TAKING MY PULSE--SHRIEK: AN AFTERWORD...WILL I COMPLETE IT BEFORE MY 80th BIRTHDAY?
The novel continues apace. I hope to have almost a complete, good draft done before I leave for England April 7th. That would mean less than 2-3 months separate me from completion of a draft good enough to send to my agent.
Watch this space for the following:
- A short feature on Myrtle Vondamitz III, Scott Eagle, and other artists I love.
- An entry on the painful publication history of City of Saints & Madmen
- More Odd Jobs
And, just for kicks, I'll post a couple of paragraphs from the novel that I just completed at lunch today.
It had been a strange, strange war—two years of watching Ambergris, like some sun-drenched, meat-gorged reptile, make one of its random attempts to molt, to shed its skin, to become something new. All across the city, from the narrow alleys of the ruined Bureaucratic Quarter to the wide bustle of Albumuth Boulevard, we could sense it coming. Odd alliances formed under stark orange skies. The vertical invasion of telephone poles, for example, once a random dotting, become a concerted march from the docks into the city's scaly white underbelly. Guns poured in with the telephones, both originating from the Kalif's empire (although often by way of F&L's agents, already gathering in the city, fly-thick and just as black-swarming). The guns came in every size and description, most of them oddly bulky and gleaming with the kaleidoscopic reflection of unknown new metals. They smelled both new and old at the same time, and they smelled of far-off places, as if the metal had soaked up the essence of the foundries and factories that had produced them. The guns frightened me. They seemed like an emanation from some future Ambergris, some place that did not yet exist, but soon would.
The outdoor café life became charged with danger and interruptions. Shootings and stabbings became all too frequent. (The novelty of guns was too much temptation for the average Ambergrisian, I think. They were too new for us to assimilate.) Motored vehicles began to reemerge in the city—dark, dank metallic beetles long dormant—as new Hoegbotton resources brought barrels of sticky black fuel into the city.
The very air smelled different—it had a charged quality, as if we were all breathing tiny particles of gunpowder; our lungs burned even without the impetus of pollen in the spring, and in the fall, even on days where the air wasn’t cold and dry. (This was not your imagination—the spore content of the city began to change, to be transformed. The gray caps had begun their slow but inexorable translation/transformation.)
At the time, I don’t believe any of us thought much about these changes. Ambergris, for all of its history, its secrets, its allure, had always been dirty, sickly, on the verge of crumbling back into itself—battered, babbling, incoherent in its design and intent. Inevitably, we all thought, the molt wouldn’t take, and the reptile that was the city would sink back into the mud a little, its skin ever more mottled from the experience.