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

    Jan 2021, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Print Excerpt

Still, as she returned to her little corner of Hall One, she was relieved to see the offending item had been removed. She hoped—though she didn't care one way or the other what most people thought of her, not really—that the men wouldn't hold against her the fact that she'd, with no personal animosity but only a humble respect for the policies to which even she herself was held accountable, seen to the excision of the doll.

Now that it was gone—and sincerely she appreciated the men's compliance—other sights poked her in the eyes: a big-headed Batman shampoo bottle, demonic stuffed creatures she vaguely recognized from TV ads, an illuminated beer sign with a picture of a scantily clad woman leaning over a pool table, a framed illustration of a crude Charlie Brown smoking a marijuana joint, a statuette done in the Precious Memories style of a grotesquely shrunken man with a base that read "Dirty Old Men Need Love Too," a board game that endorsed binge drinking and pill popping called Pass-Out, an unopened six-pack of Billy Beer. Even if it was all manufactured prior to 1989, it tested the limits of what belonged in Hall One. An antique mall, in its ideal state, was a sort of museum in which all the curios and artifacts were available for consumption, not just by the wallet but the mind and eyes, too, the perfect hybrid of gift shop and exhibit. Accordingly, a smart vendor selectively curated his or her allotted space. This booth presently inhabited by Seymour and Lee (it just didn't feel right, with Patricia so recently gone, to refer to it as their booth, as if they owned it, as if they belonged there) was meretricious, circus-colored. Surely the men meant no harm. They just hadn't yet been thoroughly familiarized with the mall's ethos. She'd just have to have a nice little nonconfrontational chat with them about it after the meeting.

Margaret turned away from booth #1-146, closed her eyes for a moment to clear the burned-in image of the big mess, and entered her dear #1-138. She felt as if she'd just emerged from the murky depths of a foreboding tar-colored body of water onto a sun-speckled white sand beach. Soft light and clean, delicious air seemed to flow outward from the yawning cavities of each piece of glassware surrounding her. She spun around, feeling almost girlish, picturing herself bathed in the kaleidoscope of colored light like that projected from a church's stained-glass windows. After all—no blasphemy intended, of course—there was something slightly solemn, holy even, about it, a sort of near-silent sound—a vibration or presence—that emanated from the glass; she'd always thought so, but never shared this thought with anyone, anyone but Patricia, who then took Margaret's hand in hers and whispered, her breath moist and particley from the crumbs of the Nilla wafers they'd just shared, "I know exactly what you mean. There's a word for it, hearing something just by looking at it." Margaret stopped spinning now and straightened her collar. The kiss—it had been meant only as a friendly gesture. That was the way they did it in Europe, wasn't it? It was true that there was no occasion for it. Margaret had never had many friends growing up, she hadn't been trained in how these sorts of relationships functioned. This is what she would say if Patricia finally answered the phone. Yes, she'd call again today, Margaret decided, after the meeting. She should be home by then. Margaret remembered that Patricia's Thursday yoga classes ended at six.

It was then, out of the corner of her eye, that she caught sight of a foreign body at rest in one of her sugar bowls. As the silhouette came into focus, she dropped her purse and pitched backward, tripped on a heel, and collapsed on the cold floor. Looking up at the doll's ominous brown face, its arms clutching the rim of the bowl, a tiny microphone in its tiny hand, she thought: This will not do. This will not do at all.

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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