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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

    Jun 2015, 656 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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Print Excerpt

I need to say this first: "Mam found out 'bout us, Vin."

"Oh? Oh." He looks thoughtful. "Right. How did she, uh ..."

Suddenly I'm scared he won't want me. "Not great. Went a bit apeshit, actually. Told me I couldn't see you again and, like, threatened to lock me in the cellar. So I walked out. So ..."

Vinny looks at me nervously, not taking the hint.

"So can I ... like ... stay with you? For a bit, at least."

Vinny swallows. "O-kay ... Right. I see. Well. Okay."

It doesn't sound very okay. "Is that a yes, Vin?"

"Ye-es. Sure. Yes. But now I really need that coffee."

"Serious? Oh, Vin!" The relief's like a warm bath. I hug him. He's sweaty. "You're the best, Vinny. I was afraid you might not ..."

"We can't have a furry-purry sex kitten like you sleeping under a bridge now, can we? But really, Hol, I need coffee like Dracula needs blood, so—" He doesn't finish the sentence 'cause I'm kissing him, my Vinny, my boyfriend who's been to New York and shaken David Byrne's hand, and my love for him sort of goes whoosh, like a boiler firing up, and I pull him back and we roll onto a lumpy hill of duvet, but the hill wriggles and my hand pulls the sheet away and here's my best friend Stella Yearwood. Stark naked. Like I'm in a bad sex dream, only it's not.

I just ... gape at her crotch till she says, "It can't look so very different to yours, can it?"

Then I gape at Vinny, who looks like he's shat himself but then does this spazzo giggle: "It's not what it looks like."

Stella, cool as you please, covers herself with the sheet and tells Vinny, "Don't be dense. This is precisely how it looks, Holly. We were going to let you know but, as you see, events have overtaken us all. Fact is, you've been dumped. Not pleasant, but it happens to the best of us, well, most of us, so c'est la vie. Don't worry, there are plenty more Vinnys in the sea. So why not cut your losses now and just go? With a little dignity intact?"

When I stop crying, finally, I find myself on a cold step in a little courtyard place, with five or six stories of old brick and narrow blind windows on each side. Weeds drilling up through paving slabs and dandelion seeds drifting around like snow in a snow globe. After I slammed Vinny's door my feet brought me here, round the back of the Gravesend General Hospital, where Dr. Marinus got rid of Miss Constantin for me when I was seven years old. Did I punch Vinny? It was like I was moving in treacle. I couldn't breathe. He caught my wrist and it hurt—still does—and Stella was barking, "Grow up and piss off, Holly. This is real life not an episode of Dynasty!" and I ran out, slamming the front door and hurrying as fast I could, anywhere, nowhere, somewhere ... I knew the moment I stopped I'd break down into a sobbing, snotting jelly, and then one of Mam's spies'd see me and report back and that'd be the cherry on her cake. 'Cause Mam was right. I loved Vinny like he was a part of me, and he loved me like a stick of gum. He'd spat me out when the flavor went, unwrapped another, and stuffed it in, and not just anyone, but Stella Yearwood. My best mate. How could he? How could she?

Stop crying! Think about something else ...

Holly Sykes and the Weird Shit, Part 1. I was seven years old in 1976. It didn't rain all summer and the gardens turned brown, and I remember queuing with buckets down the end of Queen Street with Brendan and Mam for water from standpipes, the drought got that bad. My daymares started that summer. I heard voices in my head. Not mad, or drooly, or specially scary, even, not at first ... the Radio People, I called them, 'cause at first I thought there was a radio on in the next room. Only there never was a radio on in the next room. They were clearest at night, but I heard them at school, too, if everything was quiet enough, in a test, say. Three or four voices'd chunter away at once, and I never quite made out what they were saying. Brendan had talked 'bout mental hospitals and men in white coats, so I didn't dare tell anyone. Mam was pregnant with Jacko, Dad rushed off his feet at the pub, Sharon was only three, and Brendan was a plonker, even then. I knew hearing voices wasn't normal, but they weren't actually harming me, so maybe it was just one of those secrets people live with.

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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