ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2016 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Job Hunting" (an excerpt from SWAN KNIGHT'S SON)

An excerpt from SWAN KNIGHT'S SON, the first novel in the new YA fantasy series by John C. Wright.
At dawn, Gil waited next to the newspaper box at the bus stop corner and politely asked the first man who bought a newspaper if he could have the want ads. Then, he walked to the north side of the town of Blowing Rock and began working his way, street by street, past every shop and each address listing anything he thought he could do.

Now, many hours later, he sat on the curb with the paper at the south side of town. All the buildings were behind him. The lonely highway wound down the slope into the forest before him. There was not a car in sight.

Ruff came trotting up, with a dead squirrel in his mouth. The dog laid the squirrel carefully in the gutter at Gil’s feet and sat back, bright-eyed and wagging his tail, and he barked. “Look! Look! I brought a squirrel! A squirrel!”

Gil folded the newspaper and threw it down into the gutter.

Ruff said, “Hi! Hi! You can eat it. I brought a squirrel you can eat!”

“Thanks, Ruff. You are a pal. Good dog. You are a good dog!” And he scratched the dog behind the ears.

Ruff sniffed the newspaper, and his ears drooped. The tail stopped wagging. Ruff looked up with a mournful expression into Gil’s face. “Oh, no! Oh, no! It is a day of failure. You failed. Didn’t find what you were hunting, did you?”

“How did you know?”

“I can smell failure.”

Gil looked up. “Really?”

“Yup! Yup! Well, and there is also the fact that you are sitting in the gutter looking glum rather than flipping burgers or changing tires.”

“There was one guy who wanted to hire me for carpentry. I showed him I knew how to pound a nail and hang a door. Another guy at the shooting range needed someone to clean the guns, mind the customers, and lock up at night. Even the car wash needed someone. But not me. I am not in the union, not old enough, don’t have a birth certificate. Cannot prove I am allowed to work. The old lady who runs the flower shop wanted someone just to sweep up the place, pick up dead petals and leaves, and take out the trash, but she said she could not pay me ten bucks an hour. I said I would work for half of that. She said she was not allowed to pay me so little. Not allowed! In her own store! Who has the right to tell her she can’t hire me?”

Ruff jumped up, his ears high, “Oh! Oh! I think you should sneak into her shop at night and do all the work she wants without telling anyone! Then, if she likes the work, she will leave a bowl of cream out on her back doorstep for you. And on All Hallows, she has to sew you a new suit of clothing. And then you vanish and never come again.”

Gil said, “What?”

Ruff’s ears drooped again. “Oh, no! I thought that is how things like this were done.”

“Maybe in Dog Land. The way they are done in Burke County is less exciting. If you stand on the corner at the library, sometimes landscapers will come by to pick you up for a day’s work with a shovel or a rake. But Mom said honest labor. Does honest labor mean I have to obey laws about carrying paperwork and being old and whatever else? Because that I am not allowed. Or does it just mean your full effort for a full day with no slacking and no backtalk? That I can do.”

Ruff said, “Hey! I have an idea! Why not go to Dog Land?”

Gil looked at the mutt in surprise. “Is there really such a place?”

Ruff cocked his head to one side, so one ear was up and the other down. “Um! Um! You just said. You said how they do things in Dog Land. I thought it sounded like a swell place. Swell! Because of the dogs.”

Gil scowled at the road. “I asked some of the birds to tell me what my mother was up to, but they would not tell me.”

Ruff cocked one ear.

Gil said, “Don’t you think it strange that she wants me out of our place, not even to sleep there?”

Ruff said, “I saw her walking around the place counterclockwise, three times. Maybe she is trying to summon the Greater Tree.”

Gil said, “What is that?”

“Well, you know the World Tree?”

“Nope.”

“This is greater. Greater than the world.”

“What is it? What does it do?”

“Beats me. But if she is doing something that might draw attention to herself, she wants you out of the way.”

Gil said, “So the whole getting a job thing is a trick? We should go back and protect her.”

Ruff shook his head. “Maybe. Or maybe you should listen to your mother. I always listened to mine. Except when I didn’t. Then, it did not go so good. Besides, you need to work to eat, right?”

Labels: ,

23 Comments:

Blogger Groot August 31, 2016 10:19 PM  

Dogs are very nice. Of course, they'll eat their own vomit. But they're loyal and will perform paroxysms of joy at your return, even if you just went to get the mail. They will eat human poop, though, if it's available. We were walking on the trail, and some homeless person left a gift. I doubt a talking dog would be this charming, but John's a heck of a writer.

Anonymous Ain August 31, 2016 10:19 PM  

I enjoyed the bear's suggestion of how to win a fight. Don't forget to rip off his face with your teeth to demoralize him.

Anonymous Reeder August 31, 2016 10:34 PM  

167 pages??? Wtf?

Blogger Anonymous-9 August 31, 2016 10:38 PM  

:-)

Blogger CM August 31, 2016 11:01 PM  

I love it... "perhaps she is trying to summon The Great Tree."

I think I love that dog. This is interesting. I'd get this for my son in a couple years. This is YA? Or Children's? Because this reads like a 3rd-4th grader could pick it up pretty easy.

Blogger Alfred Genesson August 31, 2016 11:08 PM  

Given the vast references, vocabulary, and imagery, I would say YA, but there's definitely plenty there for adults. Some spots, the vocabulary picks up considerably. This is not a weakness.

Blogger Stephen Ward August 31, 2016 11:13 PM  

Sounds just like a dog.

Blogger Yollo August 31, 2016 11:48 PM  

Unfortunately, I'm not financially endowed enough at the time to pay the thousand rupees this book costs. I am rereading Awake in the Nightlands and it seems I'm learning new things with every reread. I completely missed the overarching theme of Awake in the Night last time.

It is not enough that we die; that will not satisfy them. They must make the things we deem precious seem grotesque and ugly, even to us, so there is nothing fair left in this world.

(SPOILERS AHEAD) Perithoos and Hellenore escaped from the Last Redoubt as a sort of sick perversion of the love that Midrath and Andros shared. They were against the knowledge of their ancestors and hell bent on building a life away from the traditions they were rallying against. But even after Perithoos betrayed and killed her with his folly, Telemachos was forced to forgive him and carry him, blind and maimed by the weight of his own sin.

A tale much like the original Night Land, only it's about the power of forgiveness between friends through the aeons.

Show me your counter, other side.

Blogger The Other Robot September 01, 2016 12:28 AM  

I dunno. Ever since I started reading Kratman it seems like I need a few crucifixions to keep me interested in a book.

Does Wright do any of that sort of stuff?

Blogger Dave September 01, 2016 12:53 AM  

My dog's vocabulary is very limited. All he ever says is "Sausages, sausages, where are the sausages? I need sausages, sausages, sausages, sausages, sausages, sausages..."

OpenID malcolmthecynic September 01, 2016 1:10 AM  

@9

Well, in "Awake in the Night", one of the characters is - SPOILER! - raped, tortured, and murdered by hideous ape-people.

Anonymous Jack Amok September 01, 2016 1:13 AM  

My dog's vocabulary is very limited

Dogs understand words, but not language. One day while my wife was running errands, my daughter walked into the kitchen and asked "when will Mom be home?"

The dog - hearing the words "Mom" and "home" - leaped up and ran to the door wagging his tail. After a while, he walked sullenly back to his bed, casting reproachful glances at us that were full of accusations we'd played a dirty trick on him.

Blogger Elder Son September 01, 2016 1:37 AM  

@12 My dog does the same thing. Or, if I say, "Where's mom," he gets all perky and goes looking for mom, room by room. Then, if he can't find mom, comes running back to me excitedly like, "I can't find mom, show me mom." He does the same with my wife when she says where's dad. It's actually kind of fun sometimes, playing hide and seek with your dog. Boo. Gets all loopy slap happy.

Anonymous SciVo September 01, 2016 2:14 AM  

CM wrote:I love it... "perhaps she is trying to summon The Great Tree."

I think I love that dog. This is interesting. I'd get this for my son in a couple years. This is YA? Or Children's? Because this reads like a 3rd-4th grader could pick it up pretty easy.


I would guess you're right about the average age. It doesn't make sense that Rod Walker's Mutiny In Space would be children's, while this would be teens; so I extrapolate that they don't have an appropriate category for older kids.

Probably because those older kids don't want to read sanitized stories about people with lives as circumscribed as their own, and librarians don't want to think about what parents will say if they stock a "children's book" with mature themes. So they relabel the juveniles as teens, the librarians stock them, the older kids read them, the parents have kids reading above their age level, and everyone's happy.

So then they have to make a young adults category for the young teens, and it all just turns into this weird grade inflation. Or that's how it looks from the outside.

Anonymous Avalanche September 01, 2016 8:28 AM  

@9 "Ever since I started reading Kratman it seems like I need a few crucifixions to keep me interested in a book."

You might try S.M. Sterling's Drakka series (it's a four-book trilogy plus some short stories). (It's a sort-of alternative history... lot of 'meat" in there! Sterling had to essentially disavow it to the (liberal/) SF crowd; too raw, too harsh, too ... realistic?

Blogger L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright September 01, 2016 10:00 AM  

@9 what exactly do you mean? Gul kills a wilf for being a heretic, Ilya in Somewhither makes the towere of Babal shake by saying God's name.

Is that the sort of thing you mean? Or did you mean something else?

Blogger Jimmy The Freak September 01, 2016 10:48 AM  

I really enjoyed the book. I didn't want to stop reading. I believe Mr. Wright said there would be 2 more installments of the series out by Christmas.

Blogger maniacprovost September 01, 2016 10:53 AM  

The part with the rabbits, right after that, was great.

And yes, we need more installments. Although I come from the school that believes the ideal novel is 275 - 350 pages long in paperback, I don't mind getting installments from the master.

Some people may have more trouble adjusting to the new order, but I assume the "trilogy" will be released in one print volume eventually.

Blogger Matthew September 01, 2016 12:57 PM  

maniacprovost wrote:And yes, we need more installments. Although I come from the school that believes the ideal novel is 275 - 350 pages long in paperback, I don't mind getting installments from the master.

Remember that this is intended to be YA novel. 60 K words is the target length.

maniacprovost wrote:Some people may have more trouble adjusting to the new order, but I assume the "trilogy" will be released in one print volume eventually.

Yes, we'll be doing an omnibus. Vox is deliberating on whether we should also publish each novel separately as a small paperback.

Anonymous Camilla Cameo September 01, 2016 1:20 PM  

@14 "librarians don't want to think about what parents will say if they stock a "children's book" with mature themes."

Ha. Librarians and the public library system don't care about anyone's opinions if they're in favor of decency. My sister found a book in the juvenile section which included BDSM implications and a graphic description of the protagonist's vagina. She tried to get them to move it to the teen section, and was subjected to a holier-than-thou lecture from the librarian and ordered to read another lecture issued by the library system before filling out a form. That lecture included a paragraph about how our area is too white but that will inevitably change and that's a good thing because it will force us to be more open-minded. This is in a town of less than 4000.

Blogger sconzey September 01, 2016 5:07 PM  

I loved this bit, and the bit with the rabbits. Can't wait for the sequel, and for my own kids to be old enough to enjoy it.

Blogger Aeoli Pera September 01, 2016 5:41 PM  

Dave wrote:My dog's vocabulary is very limited. All he ever says is "Sausages, sausages, where are the sausages? I need sausages, sausages, sausages, sausages, sausages, sausages..."

You should have named him Milo xD.

Blogger Aeoli Pera September 01, 2016 5:48 PM  

The Other Robot wrote:I dunno. Ever since I started reading Kratman it seems like I need a few crucifixions to keep me interested in a book.

Does Wright do any of that sort of stuff?


Yeah, he painted a pretty wretched picture of crucifixion in one of his Christmas short stories a while back. However, he doesn't wallow in this stuff the way Kratman does, which I wholeheartedly appreciate.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts