When the Nines Roll Over: And Other Stories
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A tour de force of imaginative storytelling from the critically acclaimed author of City of Thieves and The 25th Hour and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones
In When the Nines Roll Over, David Benioff (The 25th Hour, City of Thieves) uses humor and rich characterizations to explore the sometimes thrilling, sometimes pathetic emotional lives of a diverse set of characters. Over the course of eight stories, we are introduced to a host of young people on the cusp of discovery and loss. As he evokes the various states of agony and pleasure—humiliation, rebellion, camaraderie, and desire—Benioff displays a profound understanding of the transformative power of a single moment and how sadness can be illuminated by a humorous flip side. When the Nines Roll Over confirms the promise of a gifted writer emerging as a storytelling force.
building, stomping on a snare drum for good measure. The curbside was littered with yellow plastic splinters. The golden arches lay facedown on the street, their backsides burnished aluminum. Tabachnik heard police sirens in the distance. He looked over and saw SadJoe crawling through the wreckage of his kit. “Are you all right?” “Fuck you, Tabachnik.” “That’s the first fight I’ve been in since fifth grade.” SadJoe wiped his nose with the back of his hand and stared at the blood. “You call
wearing Superman pajamas, lying in bed reading a book. I peered into the building’s other windows to make sure everyone was safe. That was my nightly ritual—I was a responsible voyeur. Sometimes I half-hoped to see smoke pouring from a toaster oven so that I could call the fire department and watch the snorkel truck raise its boom to the redhead’s window, watch the fireman pluck her from danger. Even in my fantasies I wasn’t the hero. I capped the telescope’s lens and eyepiece, undressed,
it. I knew the living girl, her chipped-tooth smile, her jinni’s laugh, but I can only imagine her now in agony, stripped of dignity—the gruesome last pages of a story I should have stopped reading in the middle. If I hadn’t gone back to North Wales, Maureen would still be alive; she would have survived in my ignorance and prospered. I didn’t tell my father the story of my ride with Maureen in the Eldorado until I was lying in a hospital bed with a broken neck. Dad knew Dr. Byrnes and he would
note from the nightstand. “I got one today. You want to hear it?” I did not want to hear it but Sam had already begun. “Thank you for sending us your manuscript. The return of your work does not necessarily imply criticism of its merit, but may simply mean that it does not meet our present editorial needs. We regret that circumstances do not allow individual comment. The Editors.” He laughed. “When I die I’m going to find the pearly gates all locked up with a sign saying, We regret that
cycles. “Cocktail hour,” Hector would say, arranging the amber vials of pills on his kitchen table into separate stacks: Hector’s Morning; Alexander’s Morning. Hector’s Evening; Alexander’s Evening. In those first days of living together we saw the pills as our little heroes, fresh-scrubbed American soldiers marching through Paris, waving to the cheering crowds. Nucleoside analogs, nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors—we pronounced the names reverently, adoringly.