Last Christmas, Santa was cool enough to bring me a copy of Gene Doucette’s Immortal. I have just recently been able to clean my reading schedule off again. I announced to my wife quite quickly after picking up the book that this could possibly be my favorite book ever. Of course, I am prone to overreactions – well, embellishments, really – and this book doesn’t surpass, say, Stephen King novels.
It is, however, one of my favorites on my bookshelves. That’s saying a lot for a virtually unknown author.
The writing is very conversational, which I’m a huge fan of. Doucette is overflowing with voice, as they say. The immortal in question, is the main character Adam the Immortal. This is a masterfully written character, who you’ll swear you’ve met. Heck, maybe you have. I mean, the guy is 60,000 years old.
The author has been gracious enough to send me an excerpt from the book. Before I get to it, however, I’d like to post the information/blurb from the back cover.
“I don’t know how old I am. My earliest memory is something along the lines of fire good, ice bad, so I think I predate written history, but I don’t know by how much. I like to brag that I’ve been there from the beginning, and while this may very well be true, I generally just say it to pick up girls.”
Surviving sixty thousand years takes cunning and more than a little luck. But in the twenty-first century Adam confronts new dangers: someone has found out what he is, a demon is after him, and he has run out of places to hide. Worst of all, he has had entirely too much to drink.
IMMORTAL is a first person confession, penned by a man who is immortal but not invincible. In an artful blending of sci-fi, adventure, fantasy and humor, Immortal introduces us to a world with vampires, demons and other “magical” creatures, yet a world without actual magic. It is a contemporary fantasy for non-fantasy readers and enthusiasts alike.
Based on this text and an excerpt on Gene Doucette’s website, I decided I really wanted to read Immortal, months prior to its release. So, now that I have your minds watering for more of Adam the Immortal, why not check out the excerpt below.
While Adam is waiting for a pixie in a coffee shop, Adam has an unexpected conversation.
Note: There is some language that is NSFW.
As I sat there at my little, two-persons-max table, contemplating the passage and deciding whether I should wait until I’d heard from Iza before hopping aboard a transatlantic flight to someplace remote, someone sat down opposite me.
If you’ve ever hung out long enough in a Starbucks you know this isn’t a terribly uncommon experience, especially when all the other tables are taken. Usually people bother to ask first if the chair is being saved, but…Anyway, I tried to act nonchalant and flipped ahead to the crossword puzzle to look busy.
“Hello,” my table mate said. I looked up briefly. He was dressed in a sports coat and a white shirt, no tie. He had a couple of gold chains around his neck with symbols hanging from them that he probably couldn’t identify the meaning of at gunpoint. He was white-skinned, stocky in build, and looked to have some Norwegian ancestry in him. I was singularly disinterested in having a conversation, so I pretended to be a foreigner. Which I sort of am.
“I don’t speak any English,” I said in German. Middle-high German, which nobody speaks any more. I didn’t feel like running the risk that he was fluent in the modern form. Most of the time when someone hears a foreign language they don’t probe. And they almost never ask what language it is, just so long as it sounds like an actual language. This doesn’t always work. I once spent a half hour trying to get rid of an inquisitive elderly wino in a bar in Ontario while speaking Sanskrit. Sometimes people just can’t take a hint.
This appeared to be one of those times. He smiled as if I had responded in the King’s English and said, “I’m fine, thanks.”
I nodded and tried to go back to my paper Five letter word for draining aid. Sieve? “How about this weather?” he added.
“You are ugly and smell like pig dung,” I suggested helpfully. “Yeah, it looks like snow to me, too.” This would have been amusing if it weren’t so very annoying. “Look,” he whispered, leaning forward conspiratorially, “I know you speak English. You’re reading the fucking paper. Okay?”
“Your mother eats raw salmon,” I offered. Was this guy slow? He snatched the paper from my hand. Now we were past the “invasion of personal space” phase and fast approaching “punch you in the nose” phase.
He slapped the paper down on the table and pointed to the artistic rendition of my face, circa two days ago.
“I know who you are. Now let’s talk in the same language for a bit.”
For the first time, I noticed that the coffee shop was half empty. There were four other empty tables he could have chosen from. I should have been paying better attention.I snatched the paper off the table. “I am the god of cabbage,” I declared angrily. With any luck somebody would step up and ask him why he was bothering the foreign guy.
“All right, all right,” he said. “Do me a favor. Look under the table. I have a gun pointed at your balls right now.”
Well now that was obviously a trick, right? If I peek under the table I clearly understand English. And for all I know he’s got his penis out or something. The correct response was to ignore him. Except I knew as soon as he said it that he wasn’t kidding. So I peeked. He wasn’t kidding. I sat up again.
“What is that, a .22?” I asked.
“It’s a .38. Makes a little ‘pop’ when you pull the trigger, sounds like a wine bottle uncorking.”
“That’s nice. What do you want?” “I want you,” he said, smiling. “I’m charmed. Are you a policeman?” He laughed. “Hardly.”
“Well then. If you’re not a member of law enforcement, why should I go anywhere with you?”
“Because I’ve still got a gun pointed at your balls?”
“It would look terribly silly if I got up and we walked out together with you holding a gun to my groin, don’t you think? One almost never sees that sort of thing.”
“You could give me your word that you’ll leave quietly,” he suggested. “Supposing my word isn’t worth anything?” I asked. “I think it is.” “That’s mighty trusting of you.”
He leaned forward and grinned. “Here’s what I know. I know you’re old enough to remember a time when there were no words.”
He was wrong, I think. I don’t remember any fully preliterate societies. But close enough. Who the hell was this guy?