donut

It’s time to post another novel.  Thanks to everyone who read Bad Angels.  This one’s a bit stranger.  It’s a science fiction memoir based on a crossroads in my life being revisited, a personal alternate history.  All of the important bits are true.  It’s also a tongue-in-cheek singularity tale.  As a bonus, it’s chockfull of information about making donuts, something I spent a significant portion of my life doing.  I’ll publish the novel here in four parts for your dining and dancing pleasure.  Thanks for reading.

THE DONUT MAN

 

A Portrait of the Artist

As a Middle-Aged

Donut Cook

by

Dennis Danvers

As you ramble on through life, brother, whatever be your goal:

Keep your eyes upon the donut, and not upon the hole!

—Murray Banks

 [T]he reiteration of vacancy—voids that themselves contain gaps, hollows yielding pockets of emptiness—is everywhere in science fiction and fantasy, indeed is peculiar to it…. This undermining of something by nothing (which proves susceptible to erosion by deeper nothings) is present throughout the genre.

—Gregory Feeley, “The Hole in a Hole: A Theory of Science Fiction.”

CONTENTS

Part One

1. Bob’s Donuts

2. Helpful Criticism

3. Following My Father

4. Finding Nicole

5. There’s Your Trouble

6. On the Road Again

 

Part Two

7. The No-Holes Situation

8. Poker in the Moonlight

9. Got Anything Hot?

10. Sunday Punch

11. The Wild Blue Yonder

12. The Guy in the Derby Hat

 

Part Three

13. Even Steven

14. Absolutely Sweet Marie

15. Sunset in Eden

16. What Kind of Fiction?

17. The Bad One’s Redemption

18. Son of Da Vinci’s Smile

 

Part Four

19. Looks Downhill To Me

20. Adults Only

21. There Is a Small Mailbox Here

22. Whirlwind Romance

23. Thanks for the Dance

 

 

Chapter 1. Bob’s Donuts

[G]reat novels are always a little more intelligent than their authors. Novelists who are more intelligent than their books should go into another line of work.

        –Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel

 

For almost a year now, the city has been laying new sewer pipe in front of the strip mall where my donut shop resides. It’s killing my business. It’s dead when I arrive at dusk, what used to be a busy time for us. Nobody wants to clank across a steel plate over a moat in the failing light just to indulge a sugar buzz. Cowards. Even the pizza joint at the other end only has two cars for their triple cheese special. Last Tuesday’s half price pitcher night had a Suburban full of softballers more off road than planned. I can’t complain. The tow driver bought a couple dozen. Between me and the pizzeria is Antique Paradise, a big, empty hunk of nothing that’s never open. It used to be a liquor store and then carpets. The carpets moved further out in the ‘burbs, following the money. I don’t know where the liquor store went. I’m sure they’re doing okay. They used to bring in a lot of business. You’d be surprised how many people like a few donuts with their alcohol, or maybe you wouldn’t. Indulgences people call them, special treats to make life worth living, as if it weren’t already. (more…)

Drum roll, I suppose.  The final episode of BAD ANGELS.  For the first go here; the second, here; third, here; fourth, here; fifth, here.

gustave_dore_paradise_lost_024

 

Chapter 31:  The Tree of Life

And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,

High eminent, blooming Ambrosial Fruit

Of vegetable Gold; and next to Life

Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by…

John Milton, from Paradise Lost

 

When you hitch a ride with a trainload of angels on a mission—Zoe’s opinion—you just don’t expect the thing to break down in transit because of what the nuns used to call an Act of God.  If a tree falls across the tracks in the forest, turns out even the angels don’t hear about it in time to have it removed.  They’re stopped outside of town in the driving rain, all 3K+ of them, by a lone tree.  It’s a huge thing, its roots undercut by erosion, its enormous crown heavy with rain-soaked leaves.  Very much alive but fallen.  The stranded angels can relate. (more…)

The penultimate episode. For Part One go here. Part Two, here. Part Three, here. Part Four, here.

Moby

Chapter 25:  Stairway to Heaven

No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet

From chain-swung censer teeming;

No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat

Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.

—John Keats, from “Ode to Psyche”

George can’t move.  Can’t find any reason to.  He thought he was going to die.  He can’t remember why he thought that, only the certainty, the immediacy.  He’s lying on his bed, the morning sun streaming through the glass doors, the garden flooded with light, his heart filled with lead.  He’s surrounded by piles of clothes he dumped on the bed and never put away.  Everything’s old, stained and worn, nothing really clean.  They scream loser.  One pair of jeans particularly offends him, and he balls it up and hurls it at the ugliest most pretentious and maudlin of his wretched canvases, the stone angel looking upriver at the city.  They bounce off her, leaving her hanging crooked but unharmed.  (more…)

The story continues.  For Part One go here.  For Part Two, here.  For Part Three, here.

Landscape with Wing (detail)

 

Chapter 18:  Landscape With Wing

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster…

—W. H. Auden from “Musée des Beaux Arts”

 

The museum galleries are closed for the day.  It doesn’t matter if they’re open.  No one could see him even when there were dozens of onlookers shuffling past seeking truth and beauty.  No one wants to see him, and why should they?  Even when they stare, lean in and peer so closely, curious about the wing—how it’s made, how it’s attached, what it’s made of—that the docent must ask them to step back, they don’t see him.  Beware.  The man in Heaven might reach out and grab hold, beg you to drag him out, but he can’t move, can barely think about moving except inside here.  Alone.  Now.

He knows where he is—Anselm Kiefer’s Landscape with Wing hanging in the Virginia Museum—a fallen wing fashioned from lead in a tortured landscape of tar and straw.  It’s a huge canvas over ten feet high and eighteen feet wide.  The wing’s as big as he is.  When he first saw it he was immediately taken with the unconventional materials, left when the gallery closed with wings winging through his art ever since. (more…)

The story continues… For Part One go here.  Part Two, here.

Moby_Dick_p510_illustration

Chapter 11:  Nero Remembers

Adieu! Adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades

Past the near meadows, over the still stream,

Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades…

—John Keats, from “Ode to a Nightingale”

 

There’s a lot of talking in the yard, a flurry of yet more angels, but Nero doesn’t pay it much mind—they’re not here for him—until he feels the angel drop on his back, light as a child, and he stirs and stamps.  She wraps her legs around him, covers his eyes with her palms, her little head alongside his.  She helps him remember.  Nero remembers seeing.  Nero remembers running.  Jumping.  Nero remembers… flying?

Nero, the angel whispers, we must fly!  Get us out of here!  Bust loose!

The barn is even older than Nero, the boards weathered, gnawed by insects, rodents.  In the still of the night, in the long afternoons, you can hear them chewing, chewing, chewing.  Years ago Nero had to be broken of kicking in his stall.  It’s so long ago, no one imagines him doing such a thing now, so his is the last stall on the north side where the light leaks in and Jonezie the tomcat comes and goes through the loose and missing boards.  He’s careful not to step on him.  He likes the old tom.  Nero remembers more than once kicking his stall to splinters, the light streaming in, and he was off into the moonlit fields. (more…)

The story continues… (for Part One go here)

Bad Angel 2

 

 

Chapter 6:  To Fun

Awake, arise, or be for ever fall’n.

—John Milton, from Paradise Lost

 

Peter Arrowsmith isn’t his real name.  He has a proper angel name, but he never uses it anymore, living mostly on Earth as he does, like one of the fallen.  Like Shannon whom he’s been pursuing for some time now, he’s had to learn to interact with humans, to put them at their ease.  He’s found an ordinary, straightforward, human name helps distract them from whatever peculiarities may come up in their encounters.  He shakes their hands.  Touch calms them.

Some claim the angel runs a particularly dangerous risk, touching a human, of becoming entangled by their protean emotions and desires, but Peter’s rarely found that to be the case.  The pull of such entanglements is inevitable for the sympathetic angel.  No one sense is any more treacherous than the other four, as far as humans are concerned.  A look.  A smell.  A song.  More than one angel has been led astray by a song.  The only protection an angel has against unwanted entanglements with humans is the absolute certainty that it should not occur—for the good of either one of them. (more…)

 

Bad Angel

I received a fan letter a few days ago from parts unknown, the way of the internet.  He’d read Circuit of Heaven and End of Days with pleasure and had scored an old copy of The Fourth World he planned to read next.  “Keep up the good work,” he concluded his kind and much appreciated letter, and I told him about my last published novel, The Bright Spot, published under a pseudonym to trick Barnes & Noble (who mattered in those days) to putanother book of mine on the shelves when I’d proven myself a poor product with paltry sales.

After my fashion, I have kept up the good work, writing several short stories that have found their way into the world and a few novels that haven’t despite the effortsof more than one literary agent to persuade publishers that this time Danvers will sell big enough to justify their blessing, small print run, and lukewarm support.  I’m rather fond of these orphaned efforts, and I’ve never written for the money.  I have enough glowing reviews of my seven novels under my belt to feed any author’s ego for some time to come, and my opinion of capitalism is well known to anyone who’s read my work.

Inspired also by friend and fellow author Tom De Haven‘s serial novel project I highly recommend, King Touey available at his blog Café Pinfold, I’ve decided to publish my favorite of these orphans here on my blog, in six parts for the next six weekends before Christmas.  For easy reading, the program Send to Kindle will translate it and send it to a Kindle reader on computer or phone or whatever for free, or you can read it off the blog.

So here it is, just in time for the holiday season, a gift to my readers, no strings or price attached, though comments are always appreciated, a new novel, Bad Angels.  It’s an urban fantasy, a comic romance, one from the heart.  Thanks for reading.

 

Chapter 1:  Look at Me

 

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!

Bird thou never wert—

Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “To a Sky-Lark”

 

Wings.  You might think they sound wonderful.  But this human town isn’t made for wings.  Not if you’re trying to go unnoticed like Shannon.  She’s fallen, rebel, outcast, whatever term suits.  Angel.  Don’t get too excited.  It’s not that great.

She’s been looking for a lone drunk for an hour, but people seem to be actually taking this designated driver thing seriously.  Nobody’s cut off from the herd.  Nobody’s in that sweet suggestible zone, putty in her hands.  Putty enough to get her out of here.

She saw the twinkling in the eastern sky, now just turning a dusty rose.  They’re on her trail.  Why can’t they give it up, let the world turn, let humans keep screwing up like they do best, mucking along?  No.  They’re angels.  They know best, or think they do.  And they want her back where they think she belongs so they can explain to her how she doesn’t fit in.  They’re afraid she’ll damage them, the humans, but Shannon likes humans.  As a matter of fact, she likes them a Hell of a lot better than most angels. (more…)

remapping

This Thursday October 24th at 6:30 p.m. at Fountain Books 1312 E. Cary in Richmond it will be my pleasure to join Ron Smith and Howard Owen in readings from Remapping Richmond’s Hallowed Ground, an outstanding collection of stories, poems, and art responding to the legacy of the Civil War in our fair city.  To be clear, this ain’t your mama’s War Between the States.  The event is free and open to the public.  Hope to see you there.

 

Long time readers of this blog, if there are such, are familiar with stories I’ve posted here in the past for free with God as the protagonist.  I would try to sell them, but there are already too many folks making big bucks off the divine.  Enjoy.

 

God Scoutmaster

Be prepared.

—The Boy Scout motto

 

God’s walking in the woods.  God’s into woods, forests, jungles, like in Eden and Spligg (which is just the other side of Betelgeuse in case you’re wondering).  He’s about to meet Thomas Paine Crawford who is the reason God’s here, but He’s also on Spligg on another matter at the same time.  I’d explain it to you, but you wouldn’t understand.  The human mind can’t grasp it.  Short version:  He’s everywhere. (more…)

full_allthesnakehandlers

Isn’t this Scott Bakal image incredible?  My good fortune is that it accompanies my story, “All The Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead” at Tor.com.  It appeared on July 31st, but I was deep in the throes of a computer crash and a glacially slow Carbonite restore that’s had me on a forced vacation since returning from Maine.  Better late than never.  I recently visited the home that inspired this story and had a wonderful time in spite of continual driving rain.

My experience as a resident at Norton Island exceeded my wildest expectations.  What a wonderful place, what wonderful people.  I finished a story and completed a draft of another while there.  I almost lost it all in the computer crash, but fortunately I’d saved that work on a thumb drive as I was leaving the island.  My computer was completely dead when I woke it from sleep the day after I returned.  A humbling experience.

I start teaching on Thursday, an Advanced Fiction Writing class at VCU, and I’m looking forward to it.  Meanwhile I’m trying to reconnect to the e-world and sort out what I’ve lost.  If I’ve neglected anyone out there, it’s only because I lost my laptop, and I was adrift without my virtual life.  Somebody should write a novel about this.

 

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