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FPP#20: The Gun Jammed

Two other (long) novels must be read by Monday, and after those a memoir.

Several parcels arrived this afternoon. Several parcels arrive every afternoon. Today's I opened with every intention of contributing the books inside to our department's sprawling heap. But one of the jacket designs caught my attention. It's gorgeous, distinctive and yet somehow restrained. According to the back flap, someone named Archie Ferguson designed it. Probably he is a big deal. Among, you know, book designers.

Who wrote this lovely new book?

Oh. Her.

I've loved plenty of the author's early work, but it's been years. She's written books upon books since I last picked one up. Most have been very well received.

What does it take for you to try a favorite author's new work after a long hiatus? Have you gone back to an old standby recently? Was it worth the return?Have you gone back to an old standby recently? Was it worth the return?

The novel's jacket piqued my curiosity, but its opening paragraph stopped me in my tracks. The rest of today's mail went straight onto the heap. This book I brought home. It begins:

The gun jammed on the last shot and the baby stood holding the crib rail, eyes wild, bawling. The man sat down in an upholstered chair and began taking his gun apart to see why it wouldn't fire. The baby's crying set him on edge. He put down the gun and looked around for a hammer, but saw the gramophone. He walked over to it. There was already a record on the spindle, so he cranked the mechanism and set down the needle. He sat back down in the chair and picked up his work as the music flowed into the room. The baby quieted. An unearthly violin solo in the middle of the record made the man stop, the pieces of the gun in his hands. He got up when the music was finished and cranked the gramophone and put the recording back on. This happened three times. The baby fell asleep. The man repaired the gun so the bullet slid nicely into its chamber. He tried it several times, then rose and stood over the crib. The violin reached a crescendo of strange sweetness. He raised his gun. The odor of raw blood was all around him in the closed room.

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Dave interviews authors for Powell's. He created our Out of the Book film series. He likes cats and dogs.

Books mentioned in this post

Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State

9 Responses to "FPP#20: The Gun Jammed"

    Robert Levi April 21st, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Welcome back! I missed this feature.

    I suspect most folks would pick up Louise Erdrich no matter how many years passed between books!

    Lindsay T. April 21st, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Wow. I don't know if I should be horrified or intrigued by that opening paragraph! I guess a little of both.

    Lindsey May 8th, 2008 at 10:45 am

    i had the same experience with this book cover! i opened a large box of books while at work, and just had to sit and marvel at this cover. it is simply brilliant!

    DeniseB May 8th, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Hey Dave - While you are busy goofing off at work (a notion I would never even entertain), you should start this blog up again...very interesting!

    Dave (Post Author) May 8th, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Goofing off? Never! (Excuse me for just a second while I search for nearby happy hours with the Mercury's new "Cocktail Compass" iPhone app.... Okay, done.)

    Here's a first paragraph from a book coming out this month:

    Our father told it that Jim was caught dressing up in my grandmother's black Mikimotos when he was scarcely two years old, but the first time I considered jewelry was the morning I stole my mother's wedding ring. It was white gold. A hundred-year-old Art Nouveau band with eleven diamonds in two rows across the finger, garnets that were sold as rubies in the centers of tiny roses on both sides, and hand-engraved scrollwork on the underside where it held the skin. It was the only precious thing she had left. It was never from her hand. But there it was on the sill of the window, above the kitchen sink, next to a yellow and green plant she kept.

    DeniseB May 8th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    You wrote that, didn't you? Jewelry? I took you more for a "shoe" man.

    DeniseB May 11th, 2009 at 8:57 am

    You DIDN'T write it!! I know who did though....I guess I am not supposed to tell...

    Dave (Post Author) May 11th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Oh, we can reveal the source: As you seem to have determined, it's from Clancy Martin's novel How to Sell.

    Jonathan Franzen says it's "dirty, greatly original, and very hard to stop reading."

    DeniseB May 11th, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I totally cheated, could you tell? :)

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