Monday, August 23, 2010

Chapter 18 Update, Chapter 17 Excerpt

Chapter 18 ("The Earth Doth Move") is under way. I've written the first 600+ words and the scene so far pleases me a lot. A whole lot. The narrator/protagonist is using the history of science as a metaphor for his own life, and the idea of scientific inquiry will lead him to question his own ethics. What larks! That's why we have literature! Ahem.

Chapter 17 excerpt (all the usual caveats about it being rough et cetera):

North of St. Ibb’s, the grounds were given over to the grave yard. Beyond this half moon of land was the cliff overlooking a drop of thirty yards down to sharp rocks at the edge of the water. Hamlet pulled Corambis through the snowy cemetery and let the old man fall to his knees at the edge of the overhang.

“Repent of these lies,” Hamlet said. “You ancient serpent! You devil! Repent of this tale!”

“My lord, you have misheard,” Corambis said. “Pray let us go back to the church, and I will explain all.”

Hamlet set the point of his rapier against Corambis' breast. The old man looked up at the prince, his lower lip quivering, more in anger than fear, I thought. I was a few yards from them.

“Stay back, Horatio,” Hamlet said. “This is not your affair. It is for the prince to make a reckoning of these slanders, is it not so, Corambis?”

“My lord, I beg you let me rise.”

“Then rise.”

Corambis stood, unfolding himself slowly upward. He had lost his cap and a cold wind stirred his hair. His head, with its fringe of white, was like a dead bloom atop a dry stem in some abandoned garden. Corambis coughed and spread his hands before the prince.

“My lord, I am an old man.”

“Would you like to go home, old man?”

“Aye, my lord.”

“Are you a Christian?”

“You know I am, my lord.”

“Then Heaven is your home. You have my leave to go there, though I suspect you will find yourself in the other place.”

With that, Hamlet thrust the sword into Corambis' chest. Half the blade’s length passed through the old man’s shuddering body. Corambis' legs buckled and he toppled, slipping over the edge of the cliff. Hamlet stood alone, the sword bloody in his hand.


  1. OH! Evil, evil Hamlet!!! I love the name Corambis and the vision of the lonely flower. Very nice, Mr. Bailey. Keep going!

  2. I love the sound of those metaphorical larks.

  3. Michelle: The flower image might get cut. I'm not sure how much it works there. We'll see. And Hamlet's not evil, he's just...Hamlet. One of the many times I read the play, I realized how cruel he could be, how utterly insensitive. Also, you know, Corambis was asking for it. I cut a few lines of spoilery material from this excerpt.

    Nevets: Oof! Ouch! Hey! (dies)

    Mr. Beaumont: This current chapter is exactly the sort of writing I have always wanted to do. And now I'm finally doing it. If I were a British citizen, this is the chapter that would win me the Booker Prize. Alas, etc.

  4. Hamlet is an interesting and intriguing character, and while there are moments when I understand him and perhaps relate to him, I've gotta say that I never found him warm, pleasant, or charming.

  5. Nevets: the subtitle I used for a couple drafts of this book was "Hamlet is a Dope." Because he's a dope. He keeps stealing scenes from my protagonist, but even in Shakespeare's play he's still a big fucking dope. And a whiner.

  6. When I'm feeling particularly glib and not too self-conscious about my own tendencies, I sometimes think Hamlet was the prototype emo kid.

  7. Yeah, but the filthy rich prototypical emo kid. Hamlet never lets you forget that he's crown prince and you're not. You can't really blame him for that sense of entitlement since he was the heir to a powerful kingdom, but for all his celebrated self-awareness, he had some major blind spots.