MLA Platinum Award Press Release

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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  • Published:
    Jan 2020, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Print Excerpt


"Customer, Ellie," Keith said.

"What am I supposed to do about it?"

"Your job," Keith said tremulously. "Please, sweetheart."

Ellie slammed her book shut with such force the customer startled. Through gritted teeth she said, "How may I help you, sir?" Far be it from Margaret to poke her nose in other people's family affairs, but the Stollers ought to do something about that girl of theirs.

In the EMPLOYEES ONLY area in the back room behind the counter, among storage lockers, a kitchenette, and a series of desks and bookshelves that functioned as a dealer reference library, was an old computer that purred like a motorcycle whenever you turned it on and an assortment of illustrated antiques and collectibles price guides to satisfy every niche. Keith selected a heavy tome whose cover read TOYS: From Victorian Dolls to the Electronic Games of the Future. Holding it close to his chin so that Margaret couldn't look over his shoulder, he turned the pages thoughtfully. "Well," he said, "the My Secret Princess thing is definitely okay." Margaret pictured the heavy book colliding swiftly with Keith's skull, though in her mind's eye she couldn't tell who'd swung it; she guessed with slight embarrassment that she had. "But the Hammer thing is from 1991. You're right."

"Of course."

Keith bit his lip, removed his glasses, and wiped them on his shirt. When he put them back on they were somehow even more smudged than before. "Are you really sure this is worth me having to talk to them about it?"

"Yes," Margaret said, "I am." After all, she wanted to add, it took less than a doll to fell Rome, though she wasn't sure what that even meant.

Having done her due diligence, Margaret thought it prudent to let Keith confront the men discreetly, so she left to attend to some errands and did not return to the Heart of America until later in the afternoon.

The Dealer Association meeting was not to take place until after closing, but as usual many dealers had arrived early with plans to update their stock or redecorate their booths. They shuffled in, unusually listless, the small talk strained and automatic. A couple of men from Hall Six flicked cigarettes past the outdoor ashtray and traded macabre gossip about the Bobo case.

"I heard they already found her body in a dumpster behind Big Lots."

"Nah, the mother went psycho and staged the kidnapping, only she tied the rope too tight and the kid choked."

"Says who?"

"Guy in the comments of the Eagle article, but it seems legit."

Nevertheless, once Margaret made her way past those boors into the mall proper, she found herself overcome with a sense of comfort and belonging. How nice, even amid all the ugliness of the world outside, to know she belonged to a true-blue community. It was just too bad that the Dealer Association continually failed to elect her president, despite her expertise and seniority. She had been selling at Heart since before antique was a verb, years before current president Peter Deen began cluttering up Hall Two with his little playthings.

Margaret dreaded running into the new dealers. Perhaps it'd been unnecessary to raise such a fuss over a single item, even if it was by date of manufacture verboten vis-à-vis official Hall One policy. She hoped Keith hadn't mentioned specifically that it was she who'd reported them. It wasn't as if Margaret were some humorless shrew who lived and died by arbitrary principles, who never jaywalked even across empty streets, who never let loose or enjoyed half of a vodka gimlet to celebrate special occasions. And it wasn't as if the power that came with being the senior-most dealer had gone to her head. She wasn't out to disallow anyone the freedom to sell whatever merchandise he or she wished. This was the Heart of America, after all. She was, in fact, the driving force, so many years back, in the successful petition for looser merchandise restrictions in Hall One; before she changed things around, the area was limited to antiques and antiques only, but she hadn't been able to see why she shouldn't be allowed to include her fine Depression-era glass with the rest of her collection. And all the other dealers—most of them gone now, moved on to other malls and flea markets, or else they'd since dropped out of the business entirely—agreed with her. No one could accuse her of sticklerness. She had her fun, kooky side, too. If one doubted that, one could be directed to her second booth, in Hall Three, containing the most expansive selection of Hazel-Atlas juice glasses in the state, if not the entire nation.

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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