This one's been a long time coming, and it's going to be a little bit longer: the sequel to my 2011 novel EUTOPIA: A Novel of Terrible Optimism*. The book is due out from ChiZine Publications a bit less than a year from now; the manuscript is not yet ready. But this week, my friend Erik Mohr delivered this cover--a to-my-eye spectacular iteration of the design that he supplied for the front of EUTOPIA.
By the time VOLK comes out, it will have been six years since that one, my first novel was published. For the people in EUTOPIA, it will have been a little longer: the story takes up 20 years later and a continent away, in France and Bavaria, in 1931.
I can't show off much of that now, but back in 2014 I did offer a taste, at the back of my story collection KNIFE FIGHT and Other Struggles: the prologue, "Orlok."
Here's a taste of the taste, of the opening, which takes place a little earlier than 1931:
though he had just registered his own nakedness at that instant,
Gottlieb blinked and covered himself.
No. He was compelling. Huge. Very muscular.”
you were sexually attracted to him."
course I was.”
doctor allowed a dozen beats of the metronome before he spoke the
obvious: “He was not like you.”
was grasping at his penis. The doctor made no attempt to disguise his
observation of that fact and noted with satisfaction that Gottlieb
didn’t seem to care. He was as guileless as a babe then. Could a
metronome tick triumphantly? The doctor let it, twice more.
to me the ways he was like you.”
drew a deep breath and turned to the windows. They were open a crack
to clear the air from the morning’s session, and the sweet smell of
apple blossom wafted in. The doctor was used to the smell—this was
a room in which he spent a great deal of time—but he noted it,
along with the flaring of Gottlieb’s delicate nostrils.
was he like you?” asked the doctor again.
don’t really know,” said Gottlieb. “I didn’t know him for
right. He was German like me. And he was my age.”
old were you then?”
slightest frown. “Twenty-two.”
doctor looked again to the window. A conversation was drifting in
along with the apple blossom scent. Two of the girls—Heidi and
Anna? Yes. He recognized Anna’s lisp, and she and Heidi were
inseparable. Ergo . . .
weren’t too distracting—they would barely register on the
recording. If they lingered, or became silly, he would have to stand
and shut the window, and risk disturbing Gottlieb. But the pair were
on their way somewhere, and within four ticks of the metronome were
gone. The doctor settled back.
hair was brown,” said Gottlieb. “Like mine too.”
he was homosexual,” said Gottlieb.
more ticks now.
not like me.”
me how he is not like you.”
to his homosexuality?”
you like. Yes.”
is a masculine force. He looks at me and causes me to feel as if . .
. as if I am not. Not masculine.”
doctor smiled. The last time Gottlieb had spoken of this moment, he’d
immediately denied his homosexuality. They were progressing very
well, at least as measured against their stated objective of delving
into Gottlieb’s neurosis. The doctor started to reach for a pencil
where his breast pocket would have been, but stopped himself and
settled his hands back in his lap. He spoke quietly, calmly, in
rhythm. Like a lullaby. “He is looking at you now,” he said.
flushed and, as his hand came away from his penis, the doctor was
pleased to see it was flushed too.
the beer hall, yes?” said the doctor.
stretched his slender legs on the chaise longue, and his eyelids
fluttered shut. A breeze from the window lifted the drapes, and
raised gooseflesh as it passed. The air in the beer hall would not
have been so fresh as this alpine breath.
the Bürgerbräukeller,” said Gottlieb.
does it smell like?”
things. Food . . . there is a basket of schnitzel nearby. There is
some smoke. I mean from tobacco. And the whole place stinks of old
beer. Of course. Men have been drinking beer all day.”
doctor waited until it seemed as though Gottlieb might drift off to
sleep, before prodding:
smiled. “He is leaned against a pillar. By himself, across the hall
from me. He is a very ugly man—his eyebrows meet in the middle of
his forehead, so it seems he is scowling into his beer mug.”
doctor shifted in his chair. The towel he’d placed on the leather
cushioning had moved, and in the warmth of the day the bare skin of
his buttocks was sticking there. But he fought to contain his
discomfort, his growing impatience. The metronome ticked seven times
more before Gottlieb was ready to continue.
*Coincidentally, the second printing of EUTOPIA has just recently arrived. The first printing in 2011 was unusually large, because of an unusually large death-bed order from the late Borders chain, but it is finally all gone. It should be noted that this second run is NOT the illustrated version that I promised earlier this year. That will be coming out later, a little closer to VOLK's release.