Wednesday, June 22, 2016

the last book I ever read (Donald Antrim's The Hundred Brothers, excerpt ten)

from The Hundred Brothers: A Novel by Donald Antrim:

Some nights Benedict will bring a bit of “work” from his entomology laboratory, a living specimen, or, if we’re blessed, several, sealed in a dish. Brothers gather around to hear Benedict describe the pellucid egg sac depending from the thorax of a black beetle that displays horns and an armored casing harder and more resilient than our very own bone-china demitasse cups. If we’re really lucky, Benedict will arrange his beetles on the table and they’ll sprint from place setting to place setting. Occasionally bets are taken, favorite beetles named, finish lines drawn with mayonnaise. You wouldn’t think a bug race could be so exciting. Frequently a beetle will detour, climb into someone’s soup, and kick around awhile before drowning. This can be a tension breaker on nights when we brothers are not getting along. It’s always some twin who shouts, “Benedict, take your roaches off the table! They’re covered with germs!”

Benedict will explain, patiently, that his beetles are clean, and that roaches and humans are diseased.

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