Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: Frankenstein
Carlo Collodi: Pinocchio
George Haven Putnam: The Little Gingerbread Man
Denis Johnson: Tree of Smoke / Jesus’ Son /The Laughing Monsters
William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying / The Sound and the Fury / Absalom, Absalom!
Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories / Wise Blood / The Violent Bear It Away
Excerpt from “Book Boy” – read full story at Unsung Stories:
I am a boy. I was Doc’s boy. I started in his mind. Then he took me out piece by piece.
The top of my head is a silvery funnel. And through it I gulp all the words on the page. The gears in my skull blend the pages together. I was made to make books out of books.
Doc read my books for his friends and his pleasure. His parties were known for their wit, charm and glamour. Before one party he entered my cellar, and caressed me, and touched me and polished my pate.
‘But your face…’ And there were ghosts in his voice. ‘The parties, my boy, you cannot attend.’
Twenty-odd came calling for my first confection. Doc sat them down, set them drinks and began.
‘The Biggest Sleep in CivilWarLand, by Raymond Saunders,’ he said, and they laugh laugh laughed.
Doc took my words and wore them like dresses, flashing each one to the ears of his friends. They billowed and swayed and fluttered and sank. And when they were finished, there was not a sound.
His friends broke out into raucous applause, bellowing, thundering claps and bright laughter. They said it was genius. They said it was grand. They asked how he did it. He sidestepped the question.
After they left, he dashed to my cellar, and kissed me and hugged me, all full of sick joy.
‘You’re brilliant!’ he said, so happy, so true. ‘You’re the best book boy any Doc could have.’
Zack Graham’s stories have appeared in or are forthcoming in Seven Scribes, The Cobalt Review, Unsung Stories, Junto Magazine and elsewhere. He’s at work on a collection of short fiction and a novel.
Image: Flickr / Chris JL