Excerpt from Bay of Souls by Robert Stone, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Bay of Souls

by Robert Stone

Bay of Souls
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2003, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Their table looked out on the empty two-lane highway. Michael ordered coffee with his ham and eggs and got up to buy the whiskey at the adjoining bar.

The bar had eight or nine customers, half of them middle-aged men, burnt-up drunk, unhealthy looking and ill disposed. There were also two Indian youths with ponytails and druggy, glittery eyes. One had a round, apparently placid face. The other was lean and edgy, his features set in what at first appeared to be a smile but wasn’t. Michael stood at the take- away counter, resolutely minding his own business. Then the barmaid, whom he had not seen at first, came out from some storage space behind the mirror and the stacked bottles and the pigs’-feet jars. The barmaid looked only just old enough to serve liquor. She had dark hair and brilliant blue eyes evenly set. She was tall, wearing black cowgirl clothes, a rodeo shirt with little waves of white frosting and mother-of-pearl buttons. Her hair was thick and swept to one side at the back.

"Say," she said.

"Do you have Willoughby’s today?"

"Could be we do," she said. "Like, what is it?"

Michael pondered other, different questions. Could he drive out every Friday and Saturday and have a Friday and Saturday kind of cowboy life with her? But not really. But could he? Would she like poetry with a joint, after sex? Not seriously. Idle speculation.

"It’s whiskey," he told her. He thought he must sound impatient. "It’s unblended Irish whiskey. You used to carry it."

"Unblended is good, right? Sounds good. What you want."

"Yes," Michael said. "It is. It’s what I’m after."

"If it’s good we mostly don’t have it," she said.

And he was, as it were, stumped. No comeback. No zingers.

"Really?" he asked.

Someone behind, one of the young Indians it might have been, did him in falsetto imitation. "Really?" As though it were an outrageously affected, silly-ass question.

"But I can surely find out," she said.

When she turned away he saw that her black pants were as tight as they could be and cut to stirrup length like a real cowgirl’s, and her boot heels scuffed but not worn down from walking. He also saw that where her hair was swept to the side at the back of her collar, what appeared to be the forked tongue of a tattooed snake rose from either side of the bone at the nape of her neck. A serpent, ascending her spine. Her skin was alabaster. He heard voices from the back. An old man’s voice raised in proprietary anger. When she came back she was carrying a bottle, inspecting it.

"What do you know?" she said. "Specialty of the house, huh? You Irish?"

Michael shrugged. "Back somewhere. How about you?"

"Me? I’m like everybody else around here."

"Is that right?"

"Megan," one of the smoldering drunks at the bar muttered, "get your butt over this way."

"George," Megan called sweetly, still addressing Michael, "would you not be a knee-walking piece of pigshit?"

She took her time selling him the Willoughby’s. Worn menace rumbled down the bar. She put her hand to her ear. Hark, like a tragedienne in a Victorian melodrama.

"What did he say?" she asked Michael, displaying active, intelligent concern.

Michael shook his head. "Didn’t hear him."

As he walked back to the diner section, he heard her boots on the wooden flooring behind the bar.

"Yes, Georgie, baby pie. How may I serve you today?"

Back in the restaurant, their table had been cleared.

"He ate your eggs," Norman said, indicating Alvin Mahoney.

"Naw, I didn’t," Alvin said. "Norm did."

"Anyway," Norman said, "they were getting cold. You want something to take along?"

Copyright © 2003 by Robert Stone. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.