On January 2, 2018, Yahweh’s Children will be available through Amazon. You’ll be able to read it on your Kindle or on the Kindle App (available for all smartphones).
As I wrote in a post two weeks back, this book started coming together over a decade ago, and has gone through numerous rewrites and edits ever since. I’ve decided now is the time to stop tinkering and finally put it out for an audience.
At nearly 80,000 words, Yahweh’s Children touches on essentially all of the obsessions and preoccupations that consumed me throughout my 20s. It’s very much a product of my younger years, but as I’ve returned to it over and over again, it’s also grown along with me. That most of it was written well before our current political moment suggests, if I dare say, some prescience.
It’s a weird beast of a book, a mutant cross of the adult literary and science fiction genres, steeped heavily in satire. I’d describe it as being like Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Perrotta (author of The Leftovers and Election) co-wrote a book. If you’ve read any of my fiction over the past decade or so, though, you’ll definitely recognize my voice.
To give you a small taste, I’m posting a tiny excerpt below.
Next week, I’m taking a break from posting because of the holiday, but I’ll be back in the new year with a link to the book and some gentle begging for your support.
Take care of yourselves and see you in 2018.
Yahweh’s Children: Excerpt
Like every generation for over a century, Alex’s youth had been filled with promises of flying cars and instant teleportation. Years upon years of science fiction had promised that the fruition of endless dreaming was just around the corner, that our impossible imaginings would soon come true. So, it was bitterly that Alex left his shabby (but, at least, heated) apartment to walk to the store. In Chicago, in early March, any activity outside was done bitterly.
The technology existed. Well, for flying cars; molecular teleportation still existed solely in the realm of Saturday night entertainment. In all those movies and cartoons where cloud riding Cadillacs whooshed overhead, though, rarely did the question of regulation receive any attention. Even an institution with a hundredfold the capacity of the FAA would be helpless to keep the air rage in check. Driving on a plane offered enough problems, but add a third dimension and it’d be utter chaos. Prototypes had been built, but none of the auto companies had any interest in sinking billions into what would inevitably be an unprofitable endeavor. A Russian oligarch boasted a hover car among his auto collection, but that vehicle languished, gathering dust right next to a 1950’s roadster and a Ford Model T replica.
In the city, the prudent way to travel was by foot. Electric buses ran infrequently at best, and almost never to anywhere you would want to go. The roads were in bad shape, too, pocked with potholes and cracks wide enough to lose a shoe. Lanes were purely theoretical and street signs were rarer than policing agents. The trains were the most reliable form of public transportation, but the ticket prices had risen to prohibitive levels (not that anyone could determine where that revenue went) and no one of sober mind rode the L after the dinner hour.
Alex hoofed it to anywhere within two miles, even in the coldest months; any business farther away than that, and he communicated via vidphone from his apartment. He fretted about the isolating effect of technology more than anyone, but urban living tied his hands. The greatest advancements of the past half century had all been in the area of information efficacy, not transportation. The age of instant gratification birthed the moment of instant knowledge: muttering a single word could activate ear and eyepieces which would locate the most popular and relevant data.
In the infancy of the internet, we praised the ingenuity that allowed widespread dissemination of cultural touchstones, but the fullest realization of the World Wide Web came with the creation of instantaneous historical record. If the same opinion about an occurrence inhabited enough minds at the same time, no matter how erroneous, the record would be altered to fit the common consciousness of the majority. History, now truer than ever before, provided a record of belief.
Ill-informed but popular opinion too easily became truth; all Alex could hope for was to be another voice in the hive. If he had any lofty beliefs about the role his writing served – and he was a writer, so of course he did – it was as a record of an alternative history, the neglected timeline. He pursued the stories that otherwise went unreported, usually for lack of interest among the general populous. He risked obscurity for it, but he believed in what he wrote, something few if any of his colleagues could claim.
Articles that didn’t generate hits for his parent site got buried; if it didn’t appear under the “Popular Stories” header, no one cared. A writer who didn’t consistently bring in ad revenue was relegated to sidebar status, which was why most everyone abandoned idiosyncratic and personal writing for flavor of the moment stories.
Not Alex. His fullest talent had revealed itself in his crafting of a hook, the kind of sensationalistic underpinning that made the driest story read like dime store fiction. If, on rare occasion, Alex leaned on embellishment for the less verifiable aspects of the story, then so be it. Absolute truth was a naive ideal, and the odd errant fact in the grand scheme of things did no foul, so long as the meat of the story remained true. Besides, Alex was, by far, not the worst offender. Lies permeated the internet, ceasing to be false once they achieved the validating stroke of a linked site.
There is no true or false in a spider’s web, only digestion.
“You gonna give me a cigar when you come out?” Anyone unaccustomed to Connolly might have thought it a statement, not a question. Just south of seven feet tall, the black mick was a giant aberration in a neighborhood of mostly Vietnamese and Puerto Rican inhabitants. He had the appearance of a man forged in the unkind elements: his bald, ebony head, spotted with slabs of discolored skin, housed black eye slits nestled into beds of puffy wrinkles, all of which set off his nose, a loose, flaccid object flattened by years of breaks and dislocations. Despite the temperature, he stood in a sleeveless t-shirt, airing out his deflated muscles and weatherworn sleeves of tattoos. When he smiled, he flashed a full set of yellow-tinted teeth.
Connolly squatted in a vacated apartment building five blocks south of Alex’s residence, just one of countless abandoned buildings that housed the city’s homeless (otherwise known as Chicagoans).
“You gonna shine my shoes?” Alex stood in the doorway of the bodega, its automatic doors held open, allowing the wind to wreak havoc with the displays of candied pills and cheap, knockoff electronics. The shop owner behind the counter glared at Alex who paid no heed.
“Sure, Gib. Come over here and I’ll spit on ‘em.” Connolly shivered and Alex nodded as he continued through the door. The store housed three rows of food product, as well as a back wall of refrigerator cabinets, but Alex only needed two things, both at the counter. Upon approach, the elderly, shriveled Indian shop owner, pulled a pack of tobacco cigars off of a hook behind him and slid them towards Alex; his brand, Southern Comfort.
“And can I also get a pack of the Mary Janes, too?” Alex laid his index finger on the payment pad so it could scan his fingerprint. It responded with two benign bleeps. The owner sighed and grunted, put out by having to reach to the wall twice for one transaction. With a moan, the old man laid a pack of marijuana cigars on the counter and their transaction was complete.
Alex surreptitiously slipped the Mary Janes in his jacket pocket (Connolly would expect one if he saw them) and unwrapped the Southern Comforts, pulling a cigar out as he exited the store.
“Here you go.” He tossed Connolly the stick.
“Thanks, Gib,” Connelly replied without eye contact, flicking the cigar into his mouth and fumbling in his pocket for a lighter. Alex sauntered quickly by, uninterested in getting caught in one of Connelly’s endless diatribes about, well, any of a myriad of the oppressing forces.
Alex was unfamiliar with the sobriquet, “Gib,” or why Connelly had christened him with it. If he were to guess, he suspected it had morphed out of a bastardization of the old British epithet, “Gov,” but even Connolly couldn’t have explained where the term had originated. As with most slang, it’d followed a winding path since its origin: Gib flashed into existence one day when a print journalist erroneously transcribed the online abbreviation for God Bless, G.B, as a word. Connelly’s repurposing of the word as a nickname for Alex initiated yet another stage in the word’s evolution. In his more comfortable, autumnal years, Alex would use the term for a character’s name in his mostly autobiographical, sole work of fiction, Dalliance.
On a press tour for that book, Alex would claim offhandedly, “Everything I ever wrote was a work of fiction.”