Excerpt from Groundskeeping by Lee Cole, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A novel

by Lee Cole

Groundskeeping by Lee Cole X
Groundskeeping by Lee Cole
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2022, 336 pages

    Feb 2023, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Print Excerpt

In the basement, I stretched my legs on the tweed couch and opened my notebook. I wrote down what I remembered. My conversation with Alma. The truck with the airbrushed eagles. The peacock. When I'd recounted everything, I wrote a description of the present moment:

I've got my bare legs stretched out on the tweed couch. I'm drunk. The couch is itchy. Through the casement window, I can see a birch tree. It reminds me of a Japanese painting. A string of threadbare flags is draped from the tree. The neighbor put them up. They're called prayer flags, I think. Further on there's a church steeple. Lilac sky. Birds are beginning to sing, so I guess it's dawn.

It's dim in the basement and the air feels like a root cellar's—­cool and damp. All of Pop's antiques and old tools are down here, too many to name, but here's what I can see on or near the workbench:

Crosscut saws.

Posthole diggers.

A rust-­speckled Pepsi sign.

Railroad jack.

Kerosene lamps.

Purple Heart in a glass case.

I thought for a minute, trying to decide if I'd forgotten anything important about the night. I wrote: Cardboard cutout of Walt Whitman at the party, and closed the notebook.

I found it hard to fall asleep without the television playing. I'd been watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance earlier and it was still paused. Pop had a big bookshelf of VHS tapes next to the basement TV. A lot of John Ford westerns. Billy Wilder. Hitchcock. The films were taped from television and included commercials for food processors and obsolete technologies, but I didn't mind so much.

Excerpted from Groundskeeping by Lee Cole. Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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