The Clink Street Spring Reads 2018 event is back with Novel Kicks and I am happy to be welcoming Joe Treasure to the blog today. His novel, The Book of Air was released by Clink Street Publishing on 4th April 2018.
Joe and Clink Street have shared an extract today.
**** Start of extract****
Baptised in the river
In his teenage years, Jason, his mother and his younger sister Penny are part of a Christian community, travelling on the ‘ Jesus Bus’. When the decision is taken to settle permanently in a farmer’s field, Derek, their leader, sets about re-baptising everyone. Jason is the last.
Next day I sat with the others for breakfast. My mother brought me bacon and eggs and some black pudding, which she knew I liked. She gave me a pleading look. ‘Be a good boy, Jason. This is our future now.’
Derek stood up and said that everyone had been baptised except me, and today it was my turn. ‘From now on,’ he said, ‘you shall be called Tarshish.’
I knew he meant to humble me. I said, ‘Who’s Tarshish when he’s at home?’
And Derek said, ‘You know, Tarshish son of Javan son of Gomer son of Japheth son of Noah who built the ark and lived for nine hundred and fifty years.’
And I said, ‘B***** that, I’m not changing my name to Tarshish.’
And Derek got in a strop. ‘You wanna watch it son,’ he said. ‘I’ve had my eye on you, and I reckon you been pitching your tent towards Sodom.’
‘That’s a lie,’ I said, ‘a f******* lie and you know it.’
For a moment I thought he was going to hit me. But he closed his eyes and started praying. ‘Dear Lord Jesus Christ, if it be thy will, cleanse this child of his foul words and foul thoughts and whatever else he’s been getting up to.’ He took a deep breath, while the wind touched the leaves with a dry sound. Then he opened his eyes and said, ‘Come on Lester. Lloyd. Let’s get on with it.’
I turned to run, but Lloyd was standing in my way. I felt his meaty hands on me. Then my legs were lifted off the ground. I saw faces swing past – Granny Cheryl with one hand over her mouth, little Tiffany squirming on her lap, Penny frowning. I saw my mother’s eyes, large and sorrowful, before her head dropped. They carried me into the river and held me upright while I kicked about to find my footing.
‘I baptise thee, Tarshish,’ Derek said. And the rest of it. Then he pushed my head under the water and held it there and, swear to God, Caro, I thought I was done for.
That night I stole an old bike out of Lloyd’s tractor shed. Penny was waiting for me by the farm gates at the end of the track.
She said, ‘I knew you was gunna leave.’
I didn’t say anything – just scowled and shrugged.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘I didn’t need to if you knew already.’
‘Take me with you, then.’
‘There’s only one bike. You’d go too slow anyway. And the police would stop us.’
She started to cry. ‘If you go, what’ll I do?’
‘You’ll be all right, Pen.’
‘I won’t though.’
I left her crying on the edge of the road. The wheels had stopped turning and the Jesus bus was sinking into madness – I knew that. But I left her anyway.
**** End of extract****
About The Book of Air:
Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.
Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.
These two stories interweave, illuminating each other in unexpected ways and offering long vistas of loss, regeneration and wonder.
The Book of Air is a story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world.
View on Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Air-Joe-Treasure/dp/1911525093
About Joe Treasure:
Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews.
Alternatively, you can visit his blog: joetreasure.blogspot.co.uk