Thursday, May 28, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt nine)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

Rob paused at this point. He had a cup of coffee before him now and he was staring down into it, slowly revolving the cup on its saucer. Sten found that he had a cup too, though he didn’t need it and it would just keep him awake. Carolee was standing beside him, leaning into him, all her weight concentrated in one hip, and if he felt that weight as a burden, so be it. This was marriage. This was love. Two bound in one, in the flesh, for better, for worse. Rob looked up. “I don’t know if you realize how good these dogs are,” he said. “They always get their man, I mean, always. I’ve never seen them fail yet, except in the rare care where the suspect shoots the dog—"

Carolee let out a sharp breath. “Not Adam, no—"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt eight)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

Had they seen him? No. They were there in the distance, bending over his plants, two of them, two aliens in olive-drab rain slickers and muddy boots and he was glassing them now, picking their faces out of the misting rain than hung over everything like poison gas and he was calm, utterly calm, as calm as Colter standing there naked while they decided his fate. But nobody was going to decide his fate. He was the one in charge here, he was the one in cover and he was no trespasser—they were. One of them he didn’t recognize, or not right away, but the other one was turning his face to him now, looking up the hill toward the bunker, and that one turned out to be the Dog-Face himself, Chip Moody. He set down the binoculars and took up his rifle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt seven)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

She was at the stove two days later, making a pot of low-cal chicken vegetable soup (tenders sautéed in safflower oil with garlic and onions, chicken stock, zucchini, tomatoes and snow peas from her garden), late afternoon, a glass of zinfandel on the counter beside her, everything as still as still can be. Kutya was asleep on the floor, in the cool place by the sink. A faint breeze, just the breath of one, came in through the screen windows. Quartering the tomatoes and dicing the zucchini, occasionally taking a sip of wine and gazing idly out the window to where the hummingbirds were buzzing each other off the feeder, she felt herself easing into a kind of waking dream, and wasn’t this the way life was supposed to be? No worries. Just living in the moment. Normally she would have been listening to the radio, but she’d spun through the dial twice and there was nothing but crap on—classical, with the stick-up-the-ass announcers who sounded as if they’d had all their blood drained out of them the minute they turned the microphone on; Mexican talk; Mexican music; Mexican car ads; classic rock with the same playlist they’d been rehashing for the last half century and, if you didn’t like that, the alt rock that was such crap even the musicians’ mothers couldn’t take it—and so she was listening to the house breathing around her, to the jay outside the window and the neat controlled tap and release of the blade on the cutting board.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt six)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

What she was thinking was that the Republic of California was a place in which she no longer wanted to reside. It was the ultimate nanny state, everything you did short of drawing breath regulated through the roof, a list of no’s half a mile long posted on every street corner and the entrance to every park in the state. You couldn’t smoke on the street. Couldn’t park overnight, couldn’t pay your toll in cash on the Golden Gate Bridge, couldn’t buy something on the internet without the sales tax Nazis coming after you. You couldn’t even start a fire in your own woodstove or natural stone fireplace on a cold and damp and nasty winter’s day down in Visalia, where she’d lived with Roger through her unenlightened years, lest you run afoul of the air-quality control board, and don’t think you can sneak around the regulations because you’ve got a whole squadron of snitches and tattletales living right next door and across the street to report you out of sour grapes because they’re too whipped and beaten down to start up their own pathetic little fires.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt five)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

There would have been shell casings. And the bullets themselves, the ones they dug out of Carey’s dead flesh. That would have been something, at least. But what he wondered—and here he was, following a wide beaten path uphill through the bracken at the feet of the trees, the morning still, nothing moving and nothing sound off, not even birds—was just what caliber those casings and bullets had turned out to be. Were they from a handgun? A revolver? An old wood-grip .38 or .45 some scoop-faced son of a bitch kept tucked in his waistband like a Hollywood cliché? Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges. Or something else. Something else altogether.

Friday, May 22, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt four)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

That was all she heard, because in the next moment she had the phone down on the kitchen floor and was grinding it underfoot—they could track you, track you anywhere, the phone like a homing device, like your own little flag of surrender. For a moment she was too angry to think, and if she just kept grinding the phone under her heel and if the plastic frame of it was gouging the linoleum floor Adam’s grandmother had kept up through all her failing years, well, she would worry about that later. At the moment, she couldn’t seem to catch her breath, she was so upset. She kept telling herself to calm down even as the dog, with his dog’s radar, sensed that something was amiss and began to whine, his nails tapping out an elaborate distress signal on the slick linoleum.

As soon as she’d had a chance to catch her breath she began to rethink things. Already she regretted smashing the phone. Yes, the number had been compromised, no doubt about that—obviously the police had hacked the phone records to get her cell number, but without a phone how would her clients reach her? How would she schedule appointments? How would she live? Even now people could be calling her—or the home phone, where they’d just get a message. Which she couldn’t receive and couldn’t answer. And if she didn’t call back, they’d just go to somebody else, and there went her business. She looked down at her hands and saw they were shaking.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

the last book I ever read (T. C. Boyle's The Harder They Come, excerpt three)

from The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:

The next morning, early, he found himself back in Fort Bragg, at the grocery there—the cheap one, the one the tourists didn’t know about—pushing a cart and working his way through the itemized list Carolee had pressed on him as he went out the door. The place was over-lit, antiseptic, as artificial as the flight deck of a spaceship, and at this hour there were more shelf-stockers than shoppers. That was all right. He liked the early hours, when things were less complicated. He’d been up early all his life and though everybody said the best thing about retirement was sleeping in, he just couldn’t feature it. If he found himself in bed later than six he felt like a degenerate, and he supposed he could thank his mother for that. And his father. The work ethic—once you had it, once it had been implanted in you, how could you shake it? Why would you want to? Relax, he kept telling himself. Keep busy. Relax. Keep busy. The last thing he wanted was to wind up sitting in a recliner all day staring at the TV like some zombie or pulling on a sun visor to chase a golf ball around the fairways with a bunch of loudmouthed jocks. Or bridge. He hated bridge, hated games of any kind. But how did you relax? That was the problem he was trying to resolve—and certainly world-class indulgence wasn’t the answer.