Night, Sleep, and the Dreams of Lovers

I guess it’s time to announce that my novel Night, Sleep, and the Dreams of Lovers is being published by Black Mountain Press at a speed, after to long a submission process, which seems dizzying

Night Sleep investigates the art scene in Asheville, at least as it was when I was most active in it.

Here is the sort of prelude:

Folklore has it that once you make it to Asheville you can never leave, and if you do leave, you’ll come back one day like the ball of a rick-rack paddle. One explanation is that a great crystal lies buried under the crest of Biltmore Avenue, drawing to itself the weird energy of the universe, sucking souls in and not letting them go. Another explanation is that here there is always somebody weirder than you yourself are. You’d be surprised how many find that the deciding comfort.

Here are other excerpts, to introduce some of the main characters:

In the low yellow summer light, almost always and spontaneously at the same hour, their other friends around them like a hive of yellow jackets, Toddy and  TJ sped the long mountain roads downtown to Lexington Avenue in time to catch a glimpse of Romulus Patton jingling his power of keys and trying the doors of the Lexington Tract. This vast shambling space between Lexington and Market Street was pretty much all that remained of the Patton holdings downtown, and though it stood fundamentally vacant, enough shops and offices remained at the edges to retain the impression of life. The boys, who like everyone else remembered something disreputable about the sight without being able to say exactly what, shouted variations of,

“Hey, Romulus, who is it tonight?”

“Is it Toddy’s mom?”

“Is it a guy?”

“Is it Mrs Reagan?

“Yes, I bet it’s Mrs Reagan. She likes old guys.”

“Is it a mammal?”

“Where is she? Is she too ugly to be seen in public?”

The boys speculated that Romulus Patton’s evening assignation might be a man or livestock or a Negro or somebody out of the news, and they would shout the name at him, and the bicycles would shake as the boys pedaled hard to be out of range, in case the old man decided to retaliate. But they were safe. He had no idea what they were saying, and, coming from a simpler time in which he was a known heir and the town’s singular aristocrat, he assumed the waving and shouting to be deferential greeting from yet another generation of Ashevillians.

Romulus Patton was used to being handsome. One you’re used to that, accustomed to that, nothing bothers you very much thereafter.

                                                                          ***

The first thing Charlie remembered clearly was the night Gram stood holding his hand while the neighbors’ house burned down. It was dark, and the fire was all orange and gold birthing great, black, shimmering demons of smoke. Charlie couldn’t understand why the firemen were in such haste to put it out. It was gorgeous. He had never seen such colors. There had never been such colors to see.

“Fa. . . fa. . .” he said, opening and closing his hand in the direction of the flame, as though he meant to grasp some for himself.

The sky around the flames went a radiant Prussian blue that set the conflagration off like a jewel on a velvet cloth. They had to stand across the street because the fire felt so hot. The leaves of the trees on the street shook and shook, even in the windless night, from the power of the heat passing over them. The people inside had burned to death, so there was a certain purity about it, no screaming over somebody left behind, no wailing over lost possessions, only the crackle of the fire and the shouts of the firemen to one another. Gram murmured about how he must never play with fire, but the beauty of the spectacle contradicted whatever lesson she intended.

“Fa. . . fa. . .” he said afterwards whenever something blazed or coruscated, until he learned the actual names.

                                                                    ***

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