He is an old man, beleaguered and muted like the last televised days of Richard Nixon, a bleary man with washcloth skin, all jowls and inflamed joints. He is a failed philosopher, a fading gentleman frightened by the sensations of the modern world. The painful taste of breath mints, the velocity of hand dryers in the men’s room. Everything is extreme these days. But he has always been a coward. He was afraid of the sun for years and he still jumps at unfamiliar noises, sudden changes in temperature, and the sight of Antarctica on a map. Looking at all that blank land feels like leaping off a rooftop. When he had a door, he would check its lock at least three times before getting into bed. He is afraid of many things and he has imagined his death via car wreck and home invasion many times. Now he is an antique in an overheated world of plastic and pixels, a silly and superstitious man who calls the crusts of bread ‘bones’ and refuses to eat them. But perhaps his fears have kept him alive for these ninety-one years.
His lover was a dangerous woman who feared absolutely nothing, not even when they came after her with fire and guns. She once told him that she made a deal with the devil and now he believes her.
Riot and Devotion tells the story of two people who respond to national anxiety in very different ways. After a senseless act of violence in his youth, Giraffe has become a timid man. He is a truck driver who is afraid of the sun, a failed philosopher unable to resist the current of breaking news and grisly headlines. Unsettled by his addiction to the nation’s chatter, he wanders the halls of museums and makeshift desert towns, determined to extract himself from the babble of modern life—until he begins to suspect the woman he once loved might be responsible for the riots spreading through the nation’s discount department stores. As the threads of her past draw him into furious crowds, reenactments of celebrity car crashes, and a world in which sound itself becomes a danger, he will be forced to reinvent himself if he is to find her and maintain his humanity. Riot and Devotion is a contemporary fable about violence, compassion, and faith in uncertain times.
The book is 84,572 words and I am currently seeking an agent or publisher.