Excerpt from Last Will by Bryn Greenwood, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Last Will

by Bryn Greenwood

Last Will
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 284 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
WHILE YOU WERE OUT...

When Joel reached toward the van door, I said, "Don't open it," just the way my book on lucid dreaming told me to. The book said to contradict anything I didn't like, but Joel ignored me.

"Well, hey, Bernie, what say we give you a ride home?" he said.

"Shut up and go away." That didn't work either. Amy stood next to Joel, her white-blond hair fluttering in the breeze. Joel's fingers closed around the pitted chrome lever. Before I could protest, the door rolled open, and the back of the van gaped like the mouth of a hungry cave. He was in there.

"I'm not doing this, and if this doesn't stop, I'm going to wake up," I said. Then I did.

In that sense, the lucid dreaming worked. It kept away the nightmares, but it cost me sleep. Half an hour later, when my mother called, I had just fallen back asleep.

"Did I wake you?" she said.

"No," I said, even though I knew my voice was gravelly with sleep.

"It's not even ten o'clock." She cleared her throat. "I'm afraid I'm calling with some bad news, Bernie."

"Are you okay?"

She sounded fine, but in Boston it was nearly eleven, late for her.

"Yes, I suppose, but Virginia just called to tell me Pen is dead." When I didn't answer, she said, "Did you hear me? Your grandfather Pen has died."

I got out of bed, opened the closet and turned on the light. Looking for my suit, I fumbled through the clothes at the back. I saw already where the conversation was going: a trip to Oklahoma.

"Did she say what happened?" I asked.

"A heart attack. He was nearly ninety."

"I know. When's the funeral?"

"You'll need to make that decision, unless you're going to leave it all to Virginia, which I think is hardly appropriate. You really ought to decide."

"Okay," I said. There I was at the end of a long line of Raleighs; whatever decisions there were to be made for my grandfather, I would have to make them.

After I hung up with my mother, I felt myself drifting. The floor seemed less firm, and the bathroom tiles had already lost their tangibility. Afraid of drifting further, I brewed a pot of coffee and popped a few white crosses-enough speed and caffeine to keep me awake for two days, or give me a stroke. I spent the night cleaning house and making lists, until my eyes felt cooked in their sockets. By six I was on the phone buying my plane ticket, and at eight, I was standing at the Overland Park post office filling out the paperwork that would commit me to having my mail forwarded to my grandfather's house.

I went into work two hours late, and stood at the front counter watching Ellen, the second assistant librarian, check a customer out. The only sounds in the library were the creaking of book spines, the discreet bleep of the scanner, the reassuring thump of the book cover, the intimate whisper as she slid the books across the counter to the customer. Under the counter, the printer chattered briefly. Ellen tore the receipt off and slipped it into the top book. I let it wash over me, a little balance of pleasure to get me through the funeral, and whatever came after.

My boss, Beverly, was shuffling papers at her desk, and when I told her about my grandfather, she gave me a gentle smile of condolence. She never spoke when a look would have the same effect. It was the thing that made her a superior librarian.

"It's probably going to be a month at least, maybe longer," I said.

"Why so long?"

It wasn't a simple matter of an old man's house and car and checking account. I described the monumental nature of the task, the largeness of the estate, and when she still didn't understand, I told her that my grandfather was Pen Raleigh. Then I told her to read the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I saw the elements fall into place for her, like a Tetris game at work.

Excerpted from Last Will by Bryn Greenwood. Copyright © 2012 by Bryn Greenwood. Excerpted by permission of Stairway Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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!

Beyond the Book:
  Introducing Bryn Greenwood

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • 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 ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

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

    Read Member Reviews

  • 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 Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

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.