November also marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of Neal Starkman’s Poison, and we are very happy to be giving you a peek inside it.
After tragic events plague Papua New Guinea, letter carrier Cleve begins to suspect connections between his small town and the poisoning of 50,000 South Pacific islanders. In an effort to appease his growing curiosity, Cleve begins to investigate on his own and finds himself facing an obstinate midget mayor, a sniper attack, and a love triangle with constant complications.
The reviews have come in, and the reviews are nothing but good:
“Its wry and satirical humor made me laugh aloud more than any other book I’ve ever read. And the more I read, the more I wanted to read.”
“The book is Swiftian in tone—until Starkman outs his core humanity—there’s a caring heart fueling the anger on his caustic, hilarious pages.”
Here’s a sneak peek into Poison:
Tingles. The Woman was near. Cleve had just picked up a cellophaned package of orange cholesterol and thought, now they’re even calling cheddar cheese American cheese, when the tingles electrified his body like a trillion ants with tiny whiskbrooms. He stood rigid, the grocery fading around him: She must be very near.
He’d seen The Woman only three times, the first time two months ago, early April, his hormones yawning and stretching after a somnolent winter. He was driving by the Texaco on a collection run and spotted Her filling the tires of a late-model tricycle, very chic for Eaton. He drove by so quickly that at first all he could elicit from the dim recesses of his memory was an image of blazing eroticism.
It was Her potential that had impressed him—an unlit candle, an unkindled log, an untorched song. Later, he found he could conjure up that image at will, and even alter it to include himself.
The next time he ran into Her was at the Hops Hop, and the time after that was at the drive-in window of the Farquhar-Eaton Sav-Mor Bank. He was again in the mail truck, and She was in the car just ahead of him, a convertible with the top halfway up. She wore a poly-colored muumuu, slit at the sides, with black pearls hanging tastefully in strands from Her neck. Cleve watched Her like a diamond cutter, wishing he’d cleaned his windshield. He wondered if, like most people in Eaton, She’d be excited by a ride in a mail truck. The idea of flouting federal regulations sent him into a delirium, and he forgot to endorse his paycheck, bringing a wince to the new Farquhar teller’s face as her smile-stitches dug into her gums.
Now, amid the cheeses and the Light of Liberty bolognas and the Freedom bacon, as he gripped the 0.88 pound of cheddar-American, the music started, the stars came out, the odor of large, furry animals in heat entered his nostrils, and those peculiar sex-frenzy tingles made their wild dances over his body. He fought off numbness and turned to his right. Not ten feet away, The Woman bent over the yogurt.
Cleve’s eyes watered as he struggled to maintain control over his favorite vital organs. She was a goddess, an epiphany of form and beauty, everything that was desirable—virgin, wench, mother, friend, spiritual advisor, accountant. He ingested Her with his eyes. She could have been a statue, or an artist’s conception of a statue before he ever takes hand to chisel. Paroxysms of libido swept over Cleve, and he realized he’d been squeezing the cheese into a new and rather unappealing shape. It now resembled a piece from a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.