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Excerpt from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Bone Clocks

A Novel

by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell X
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 640 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 656 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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Print Excerpt


My brother doesn't take the bait. "Guess so." It's hard to imagine Brendan being anyone's dad but, come Christmas, he will be.    

Behind us the NatWest opens its doors and the bank clerks start filing in. "Not that Mr. Conway'll fire his son-in-law," I say to Brendan, "but don't you start at nine?"

"This is true. See you tomorrow, if you're back from your revision-a-thon. Mam's invited us over for lunch. Have a great day."

"It's the best day of my life already," I tell my brother and, in a secondhand way, Mam.

One flash of his award-winning smile and Brendan's off, joining the streams of people in suits and uniforms all going to work in offices and shops and factories.

On Monday, I'll get a key cut for Vinny's front door, but today I go the usual secret way. Up a street called the Grove, just before the tax office, there's this alley, half hidden by a skip overflowing with bin bags smelling of bubbling nappies. A brown rat watches me, like Lord Muck. I go down the alley, turn right, and now I'm between Peacock Street's back-garden fences and the tax-office wall. Down the far end, the last house before the railway cutting, that's Vinny's place. I squeeze through the loose slats and wade through his back garden. The grass and weeds come up to my waist and the plum trees are already fruiting up, though most of the fruit'll go to the wasps and the worms, Vinny says, 'cause he can't be arsed to pick it. It's like the forest in Sleeping Beauty that chokes the castle when everyone's asleep for a hundred years. Vinny's s'posed to keep the garden neat for his aunt but she lives up in King's Lynn and never visits and, anyway, Vinny's a motorbike guy, not a gardener. Once I'm settled in, I'll tame this jungle. It needs a woman's touch, that's all. Might make a start today, after a session teaching myself the guitar. There's a shed in the corner half hidden by brambles, with gardening gear and a lawnmower. Sunflowers, roses, pansies, carnations, lavender, and herbs in little terra-cotta pots, that's what I'll plant. I'll make scones and plum pies and coffee cakes and Vinny'll be all, "Jesus, Holly, how did I ever get by without you?" All the magazines say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. By the rainwater barrel a fingery purple bush is swarming with white butterflies, all confetti and lace; it's like it's alive.

The back door's never locked 'cause Vinny's lost the key. Our pizza boxes and wineglasses're still in the sink from last night, but no sign of breakfast—Vinny must've overslept and raced off to work, as per usual. The whole place needs a good tidying, dusting, hoovering. First a coffee and a fag's in order, though—I only ate half my Weetabix before Mam started her Muhammad Ali act on me. I forgot to get any ciggies on the way up—it flew out of my head after meeting Brendan—but Vinny keeps some in his bedside table, so I pad up the steep stairs and into his bedroom. Our bedroom, I should say. The curtains are still drawn and the air's like old socks so I let the light in, open the window, turn round, and jump out of my skin 'cause Vinny's in bed, looking like he's cacked himself. "It's me, it's only me," I sort of gupper. "Sorry, I—I—I—I thought you were at work."

He claps his hand over his heart and sort of laughs, like he'd just been shot. "Jesus, Hol. I thought you were a burglar!"

I sort of laugh too. "You're . . . at home."

"Cock-up with the rota—the new secretary's bloody hopeless—so Kev phoned to say I've got the day off, after all."

"Brill," I say. "That's great, 'cause ... I've got a surprise."

"Great, I love them. But put the kettle on first, eh? I'll be right down. Shit, what am I saying? I'm out of coffee—be a sweetheart, pop out to Staffa's and get a jar of Gold Blend. I'll pay, uh, you when you get back."

Excerpted from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Copyright © 2014 by David Mitchell. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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