Excerpt from Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Heart of Junk

by Luke Geddes

Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes X
Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2021, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Print Excerpt

Chapter 1
Margaret

Margaret Byrd watched the two new vendors who had taken her dear friend Patricia's vacated booth (#1-146) lug in their boxes of inventory, thinking: There were antiques and then there were collectibles. She ought to poke her head out from behind her immaculate, organized-by-color shelves of perfume bottles, some of which—on the top row, of course, locked behind thick, bulletproof glass, the storage unit screwed securely to the wall, and, of course of course of course, the entire set insured to its precise value—dated back to the eighteenth century, and introduce herself, welcome the gentlemen to the Heart of America Antique Mall family, perhaps show them to the café and treat them to a package of Nilla wafers and a Pepsi from the vending machines. Yes, she certainly should, and in a little while she would. But for now she only watched, making note of the many collectibles (which consisted of any crafted or manufactured items less than one hundred years old, unlike antiques) the two men removed from overstuffed cardboard boxes and set haphazardly on the fiberglass shelving units they probably assumed the mall had provided but which had actually belonged to Patricia. Margaret had thought her leaving them there was a sign she'd return one day, she hadn't really meant the unpleasant things she'd said two months ago, before she dropped, quite deliberately, Margaret's Royal Flemish biscuit jar with gold and amethyst butterfly embellishment, shattering it into a thousand glittering pieces—but no, in retrospect, an accident, just an accident, Margaret was certain, unequivocally so—and stormed out, sending her three brutish sons to collect her inventory days later. They'd forgotten Patricia's beautiful hand-painted porcelain doll, and although it didn't fit, Margaret had been keeping it safe behind a shelf in her own booth. Margaret called her, sometimes twice a day, ready to explain away the simple misunderstanding that had led to all this trouble. She'd written her spiel down on a telephone pad, just in case she got flustered or nervous—though why should she be nervous? The calls went unanswered, the messages unreturned.

One could make out dust rings on the shelves left by Patricia's exquisite Josef Hoffmann–style candlesticks and already these two were moving right on in, proudly displaying Dallas and The Beverly Hillbillies board games where Patricia's gilt nineteenth century hand mirrors once sat, fanning back issues of Playboy and Oui and Mad magazine on the lowest shelves where anyone's children could get at them, and stacking tin lunch boxes whose brightly colored visages—the Fonz, grinning; a tense Lee Majors, standing impassively in a fluorescent sea of flames; soaring, dead-eyed cartoon superheroes; potbellied, silver-jumpsuited casts of science fiction television programs long forgotten—mocked everything booth #1-146 had once been. And even though their ten-by-twenty-square-foot space was stuffed thick and musty with the accumulated ephemera of a thousand Generation X childhoods, they left for the parking lot and returned with still more things.

Margaret's heart began to hiccup as they continued to unpack. There were artifacts and then there were knickknacks. There were knickknacks and then there was junk. With the emergence of each item, she was surer that these two were nothing more than half-rate junk dealers. When one of them pulled out an unopened box of Mr. T breakfast cereal, she began to choke. She needed some coffee, with a lot of cream and half a spoonful of sugar, and maybe some popcorn or those Nilla wafers. However, the only route to the café was past the dreaded twosome. Oh, what the heck, she thought. She may as well satisfy her own morbid curiosity. She couldn't help it. She was human, too, always slowed down with the rest of them to take a gander at a grisly accident at the side of the highway, though she did it out of concern, in case someone would happen to flag her down for help; she wasn't some thrill-seeking gawker.

Excerpted from Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes. Copyright © 2020 by Luke Geddes. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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