Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Beautiful Piece"

Joseph G. Peterson is the author of Beautiful Piece.

He applied the Page 69 Test to the novel and reported the following:
During a deadly Chicago heat wave that’s claiming hundreds of lives, Robert, who’s stuck in his apartment alone, fears he’s going to be the next victim. In the apartment above him lives a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who talks obsessively about the corpses of his war experience while alternately listening to Die Meistersinger and Madama Butterfly.

One day, Robert ventures forth into the searing heat to gas up his car. Immediately he encounters enigmatic Lucy who is trying to escape her brutal fiancĂ©, Mathew Gliss. On a whim, Lucy invites Robert to her apartment where she shows him her mysterious tattoo and tells him of her dangerous life with Matthew Gliss. She warns Robert that Matthew has a Glock automatic and if Matthew ever catches them together Robert should run, not walk, because Matthew won’t think twice of using that Glock to kill him.

Robert doesn’t even know what a Glock is, so he asks the Vet if he knows what a Glock is, and the Vet says: “You need a Glock, I’ll collect you a Glock, no problem.”

“I don’t need a Glock,” Robert says. “I’m only interested in what do you know about them.”

“Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll collect that Glock for you no problem.”

On page 69 Robert and the Vet are at the racetrack when the Vet mentions, much to Robert’s dismay, that he has collected the Glock. It’s the moment when Robert, the narrator, obtains, almost against his will, a Glock automatic, which he will inadvertently be required to use before the book is over. Here’s the scene in Robert’s own words:
On the way to the track he [the Vet] says to me: by the way, I collected that Glock. After the races what do you say you and I go plinking at the dump?

It’s another bad omen, I say to myself, that he’s collected the Glock to go plinking.

Hey, the Vet says on the ride out to the racetrack, I’ve collected it. You game to go plinking at the dump after the races?

And then during the races he says it again, in passing only, at the end of the fifth. We can leave now, if you want. I’m tapped out. What do you say we go plinking at the dump? I brought it with me.

What do you say, I think to myself, other than this is another bad omen? Have I stepped into a hornet’s nest? I wonder. And what have I done by bringing the Vet into it?

Want to go plinking?

Have you collected the Glock?

I have. What do you say we plink around with it?

And then I think: I’ve overcome every other bad omen that has gotten in the way. Why not overcome this bad omen as well? So I think: Why the hell not? And I told him: Sure, why the hell not? Hmmph. Very interesting, I think to myself. I, who wouldn’t own a Glock even if I could, am now headed out to the dump to go plinking with a Glock the Vet has collected.

We’re at the dump plinking with the Glock.

Why do you want this thing anyway? The Vet asks.

I didn’t want it. You’re the one who’s collected it, remember?

Oh, yes, beautiful piece of mechanicals, this gun here.
Listen to an audio reading and discussion of Beautiful Piece on Myspace.

Read excerpts and learn more about the book and author at Joseph G. Peterson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue