2020 RELIT BEST NOVEL WINNER
Oh my goodness. Did you ever get to thinking that "down on your luck" isn't just an expression? And that what we need here is a bigger statement? Something that adequately describes the scope of the situation? Like when your ex-wife spends all of her time angrier than a five-dollar pistol at everything on the planet, but mostly at you (well, really only at you, and she brings back your record collection, but she sets fire to it on your porch and the flames spread to your house and that just proves what you've said all along: that she is crazier than a box of frogs). Or when your ninety-year-old stick of a father uses his gnarled up knuckly fingers to apply "the nut twister" on you every chance that he gets. And you haven't been with a woman for a very long time and about the only chance you will ever have of getting laid again is to crawl up a chicken's ass and wait.
This shit is dire. Well, what I mean is that "down on your luck" doesn't quite cut it when bad luck has become a way of life. You just have to remember: You can have everything you want in this life. Provided all you want is a stained mattress and a hangover.
SKIN HOUSE is a story about two guys who end up in the same bar they started out in. Maybe they're slightly better off than they were in the beginning. Or maybe not. One has a girlfriend though. They both have a little extra cash, enough to order nachos whenever they want to without going through their pockets first. They're not dead, and that's something right there. And they're not arrested, which is the quite surprising part.
SKIN HOUSE is published internationally by the award winning Anvil Press and is available wherever you get books (including, as of November 2023, the lunar surface, as a part of the NASA/Astrobotic Mission to the Moon, and in 2024 with SpaceX).
I AM BILLY THE KID
RIGHTS ACQUIRED IN A DEAL NEGOTIATED BY HILARY MCMAHON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT - WESTWOOD CREATIVE ARTISTS,
WITH ANVIL PRESS - LAUNCHED JULY 2022
We’re up on a little rise over the gulch and the man hasn’t seen us yet which means that this is no place for him to be because he should have noticed us by now, it means that this is not a natural place for him to be. He does not understand the desert and he is away from his home.
“I don’t like it,” I tell Joseph.
“Me neither. But what do you think of it?”
“Well, he’s not going to shoot at us, if that’s what you mean, unless we scare him.”
“Well who’s going to scare who? He’s the one got a fucking bag over his head.”
“I guess he’s got something to hide.”
I watch him move from the fire on over to his horse. His horse starts and hooves at the ground.
“His horse knows we’re here and he doesn’t know and he doesn’t even know that his horse knows. So the only danger he represents to us is that he’s a stupid enough son of a bitch that he might pull a gun on a stranger without measuring the cost to himself…” This is what I tell Joseph.
“But then you could just shoot him.”
“Just because I shoot people doesn’t mean I just shoot people Joseph.”
“That does not make any sense Billy.”
“You head out on the trail with a cook you gonna make him cook every meal for you?”
“Why not? We’d eat better than if I did it myself.”
“Well maybe he don’t want to cook.”
“What’s he a cook for then?”
“Don’t be deliberate. Maybe he wants a rest.”
“What’s he all tired out for?”
“From all the cookin’.”
“Cookin’ ain’t such hard work when you know how.”
“Neither is killin’ unless you have to do it every day.”
“But I’m payin’ this bastard ain’t I, to cook? You said so yourself.”
“Goddamit Joseph you are deliberately messing up the comparison I am trying to make here. I am talking about shooting men. I am sayin’ that I have lost the taste for it entire.”
“I thought you were talking about cooking.”
“Fuck cooking. I’m tired of shooting, that is what I am saying.”
“But you’ll do it though… if he does?’
“Think he will?”
“What are you planning to do, sell tickets for it? No. I do not think that he will.”
“Because I think that he will go to his grave from age with the both of us still crouched up here talking about cooking and shooting, and because I think he’s got a bag over his head and that signifies to me he’s got bigger problems than just being worried about what we might do, also that he probably can’t see for shit and will probably hit you instead of me.”
“I’ll hang back a bit then.”
“I used to be a force to be reckoned with in these parts.”
“You still are.”
“No I ain’t neither. I ain’t even a force to be reckoned with in this gulch.”
“Why do you suppose he wears that big fur coat?”
“Why don’t you go on down and ask him?”
“I ain’t that curious.”
“You worried about a fur coat and he’s got a big burlap bag over his head. And you ain’t curious about that at all?”
“Well let me know what he says about it.”
“Fuck you Joseph.”
“Or maybe we should just send your imaginary cook down there to ask him.”
“Just fuck you.”
Representation by Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists.
I AM BILLY THE KID imagines the life of the infamous gun fighter after he fakes his own death and heads to Canada in the company of his older brother Joseph, meeting, along the way, Turner Wing - one of the most daring and courageous women of the day, or any day.
Both hilarious and profound I AM BILLY THE KID examines the nature of celebrity, of establishing identity through violence, and of escaping one's past mistakes in order to define one's future.
And it is a wild ride.
Launched July 1, 2022
Purchase at anvilpress.com, indigo.ca, on Amazon or the bookstore of your choice.
Rights and promotional inquiries about this property may be made to:
Westwood Creative Artists
386 Huron Street
SOUTHBOUND - A STORY IN POETRY
RIGHTS ACQUIRED BY ANVIL PRESS
I was thinking
You know that guy in the Bible? I ask you. The one with the snakes?
I can’t remember his name.
I want to say Methuselah? That’s really the only name I remember from the Bible.
Except for Jesus.
And it definitely wasn’t Jesus. You lose more and more as you age. In the Bible there was one guy lived for nine hundred and thirty-seven years – you can look it up. But I was thinking; by the time you get to that age it has to be all losing. You’ve lost so much by then that time is like a breeze across your face. Minutes, hours…
When I was twenty, I was in a bar on the beach in South Florida. I’d already been there quite a while.
And Susan Sarandon’s cousin walked in. Or at least she said she was.
And really, why would you lie about that?
Well, we had quite a few drinks.
I remember thinking “This is what I asked for.”
And I can’t remember why I thought that. I’d never asked to get drunk with Susan Sarandon’s cousin. When I was twenty, I’d never asked for much, besides the Christmas presents I’d wanted as a boy. A metal construction set I could use to build cranes and little cars that whizzed across the hardwood floor and were lost forever under the couch with my father’s left slipper and my G.I. Joe. Funny how your childhood stays with you. We were thrown out of the bar eventually. We shared a cigarette on the beach. She’d had a hard life. But she had soft skin. There was a store near the beach with a big sign that said “Shotguns. Liquor. Luggage.” But it was closed.
This was supposed to be a poem about loss and what we did on that beach so many years ago.
But it’s funny: no one really cares about indiscretion anymore.
I think it’s the fault of the internet. We have become a hardened people. But Susan Sarandon.
That last scene from Thelma and Louise.
How her hands gripped the wheel.