Excerpt from The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Story of Arthur Truluv

A Novel

by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg X
The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2017, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2018, 272 pages

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"Gordon!" he calls. A movement in the bushes and then Gordon darts out and runs to the driveway, where he lies on his back regarding Arthur.

"Come here," Arthur says, patting his leg.

Nothing.

"Come here!" Arthur says. And then, rolling his eyes and lowering his voice to a near whisper, "Come, kitty, kitty."

Nothing.

One last thing he can try. He goes into the house and gets Gordon's bag of treats. He carries it outside and shakes it. Gordon runs away.

Arthur lets the air out of his cheeks. If he ever gets another pet it will be a dog. Nola picked out Gordon at the shelter when the kitten was barely six weeks old. "Look at him!" she kept saying, on the ride home. Arthur wasn't sure what he was supposed to look at, but he knew better than to ask. Gordon— unnamed at that point, though Nola had suggested Precious, which of course Arthur had to put the kibosh on— was just a white kitten with a brown tail. But each time Nola told him to look, he looked over and said, with a kind of false proprietary pride, "Yup!" You would have thought they were driving the baby they never could have home from the hospital.

Arthur goes inside, but leaves the door propped open. He'll get into his pajamas and brush his teeth and wash his face and his glasses, then check again. If the cat doesn't come back then, well, he's on his own. Bon appétit, coyote.

Arthur finishes his preparations, then comes back downstairs. No sign of Gordon. He calls him once more, then closes and locks the door and heads upstairs. He opens the book he's reading, but he can't concentrate. He snaps out the light, lies down, and stares out into the blackness. When he feels a thud on the bed, he jumps and cries out, much to his shame. You'd think a bat had dropped from the ceiling. But it's only Gordon, the devil.

"Where were you?" Arthur asks. Gordon comes closer, curls up next to him, and starts purring.

"You think I'm going to pet you now?" Arthur asks. "After what you put me through?"

But he does pet him. And then he sits up and snaps the light back on and reads a few pages from his Western before he goes to sleep, a feeling like an inflated balloon in his chest, the cat curled in his lap. Little mercies.


At midnight, Maddy calls Anderson. She keeps her voice low, so her father won't hear. Anderson answers sleepily, and Maddy instantly regrets herself. But what can she do now except plunge in?

"Hey," she says, but her voice is too girly, so she lowers it to say, "What are you doing?"

"I'm fucking sleeping," Anderson says. "Duh."

"Well, I'm sorry to wake you but you said you were going to call tonight, so . . ."

"Did I? Sorry. But I just saw you, right? And I . . . got busy."

Doing what? she wants to ask, but best not to push. He did apologize.

She starts to ask him about his day but things have gotten to such a bad place. So she asks in what she hopes is a jaunty, playful way, "Want me to sneak out and meet you?"

"I don't know, Maddy," he says, and the distance in his voice terrifies her.

"I learned a new trick," she says, and he laughs and says, "Oh yeah? What trick is that?"

"It's a surprise."

He's quiet, and she says, "Meet me at the corner. We'll go somewhere. I'll do it to you in the car."

He sighs. "I gotta work in the morning. We need to make it fast, okay? Nothing after."

"Okay," she says. "I'll be out there in fifteen minutes. Come and get me."

She hangs up and contemplates what to wear. Something easy to slip off. This is exciting. It is, isn't it? She like she's in a television show. But now she needs to think of a trick.

She takes off her pajamas and pulls on a T-shirt. No bra. Jeans, no underpants. Then she uses her phone to google Variations on oral sex, female to male.

Excerpted from The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg. Copyright © 2017 by Elizabeth Berg. 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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