Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Excerpt: Rust-Flecked

Now Playing: Hans Zimmer - Are You Listening, Clark? (Man of Steel OST)


I love this book. Chuck Wendig (who's quickly becoming my favorite author) is an incredible writer; he's proven that through his books, his short stories, his freaking blog (and Twitter). I'm almost jealous of him--of his characters, his humor, his understanding of what makes a plot hold the reader's eyeballs hostage, his incredibly vivid but unobtrusive writing.

This is a rather large excerpt from Zer0es because I want to showcase how one should introduce backstory. Particularly that which is especially painful to the character. I also almost wish I could make it even longer and backtrack a little bit so I could quote some of his dialogue. (It's realistic without being so true to life it becomes distracting).

A lot happens in this book. This is not the most visceral scene to go down in Zer0es--in fact many more terrifying, jaw-dropping, or outright awesome scenes happen after the halfway point--but it is one of the first powerful moments. After this point, I realized this would become one of my favorite books ever. Because it's not just the voice, it's the attention to detail that intertwines with the emotion, and how all that works together to reveal so much about this character.

Some backstory spoilers for Chance.

And then the lid pops and Chance's eyes adjust: everything's dark, then the white comes in like a nuclear blast, and then everything's bleached by light. Soon the scene creeps in through the wash, like shapes rising out of milk. Chance lifts himself up, water dripping off him in little streams, his puckered hands on the edges-- 
Hollis Cooper has a gun pointed at him. A rust-flecked old Smith & Wesson .357. 
Next to Hollis is Angela Slattery. Her face is bruised, swollen, plumped up like an ugly peach. She opens her mouth and pills fall out, clatter on the ground. "Don't look away," she hisses. 
"No, no, no, wh-what is happening--" 
Copper hands Slattery the gun. "I think you deserve this," he says to her. 
"Don't look away!" she screams. 
She pulls the trigger. Chance is erased in a white light and a dark splash. 
Chance lurches up. Bangs his head atop the inside of the deprivation chamber. It never opened. Hollis was never here. Neither, it seems, was Angela Slattery. (A mocking voice inside his mind: I don't know Angela Slattery!) Chance weeps. The moments stretch to minutes. They combine to form hours. They collapse again to seconds, moments, slices of moments. Time means nothing. Somewhere he fouls the water. He hears his mother drowning in her own fluids, coughing so hard she spatters the walls with her cancer. He feels movement underneath him, like he's in a casket on the way to the funeral instead of her. He hears the gunshot again from a rust-flecked .357, but this time it isn't pointed at him but pointed upward, underneath his father's chin, leaving him alone at the farm, and in life, forever.
- Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

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