Book Excerpt - Strange Nervous Laughter

Monday, June 08, 2009

Strange Nervous Laughter ~ Bridget McNulty
256 p, Thomas Dunne Books, ISBN-13: 978-0312544348

You’ll not find six more remarkable characters: a cashier-turned motivational speaker, an undertaker with a toenail fetish, a girl wrapped in dreams, a man who communicates with whales, a garbage man with a peculiar sense of smell, and a Guinness Book of World Records representative. When a random holdup at a local grocery brings them together, their once separate lives intertwine in a humorous blend of lyricism, whimsy and wit. This is a rare book about what love does to us, how our lives are changed by being in love—and the odd ways in which we sometimes behave. Up-and-coming novelist McNulty shows herself to be a writer to watch.

"It all started on a Friday afternoon in the middle of a cold July.
     School had sluggishly staggered towards the finish line, as it always did on Fridays, and when the final bell rang Mdu couldn't bear the thought of going home to his falsely upbeat mother, asking him about his future plans while surreptitiously sipping neat whisky from a tea cup.
     Mdu headed straight for the beach, taking a route through the heart of the city, which forced him to execute some nifty bike moves as he dodged minibus taxis, jaywalkers, trolleys laden with tin cans and refundable bottles, and hordes of people walking in every direction. He flew past a man jogging on a busy corner, dressed in an immaculately pressed white karate uniform, a legless woman sitting on a brightly checked blanket playing a recorder, fresh oranges for sale piled up in boxes, and a pair of youngsters trying to balance a fridge in a wheelbarrow.
     He held his breath as he passed rotting garbage lurking in the gutters, meat cooking on open braais outside butcheries, and piles of unwashed clothes for sale, mixing with the usual fetid city cologne of sweat, car fumes and mielies roasting on the paint-can fires on the pavement.
     The wind streaming past him tasted like adventure.
     Mdu held his breath until unexpectedly (in a burst of sunlight, it seemed) the sea opened up before him, framed by palm trees with street children lounging underneath, and flanked by the rundown remnants of Art Deco buildings. He turned and biked north, passing old women selling bright beadwork, woven baskets and Chinese toys, passing mimes posing like white-painted statues, passing young teens working out their issues on the skate ramp.
     The beachfront always smelt like holidays to Mdu - suntan lotion and ice cream and sand. He didn't like it; it made him feel anxious. And so he carried on cycling until he reached the furthest chunk of land he could find, right next to a steep drop-off into the churning Indian Ocean, home to killer whales.
     Orcas. His new family."

*** Posted here with the Author's permission ***
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2 People said

  1. Thanks so much for posting this! I think it gives just a little taste of what the book is like... hope your readers enjoy it!

  2. I loved the excerpt. Can't wait to read more. Thanks for sharing.


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