Announcing Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People

Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People by Jim NelsonIt’s with a great deal of relief I announce the publication of my new novel, Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People.

Yes, relief. I’ve worked on this book for over ten years taking it through six major revisions, including one of Melvillean proportions (the manuscript was too large for Microsoft Word, forcing me to split it into two files). What started as a throwaway line from an unrelated short story—”His father studied thermonuclear reactions. He could explain Nagasaki at the subatomic level”—grew into an undertaking that has consumed a double-digit percentage of my adult life and a fair chunk of personal sanity. I pushed the manuscript aside twice out of resignation, only to return to it years later convinced I could get it across the finish line. Most achingly of all, it received substantial interest from an agent who was patient enough to read three revisions…only to walk away from it, not convinced it was something she could get behind.

No matter. It’s done now. Saying “It feels like a weight has been taken off my shoulders” is too wordy. Strike “It feels like” from that sentence. It’s not a simile. Finally I can see straight, for the first time in over a decade.

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Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People

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The Tusk’s Fiction First Friday: “Roast”

I’m pleased to share that The Tusk has published an excerpt from my upcoming novel Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People. Titled “Roast”, it’s the novel’s opening chapter and introduction to the narrator, Gene Harland. Here’s the opening grafs:

The Petrenkos were barbecuing people. They barbecued in sweaters and jeans, they barbecued in swimming trunks and bikini tops. The first clear weekend of the year, they rolled their venerable Weber out from its corner in the gardening shed and ratcheted on the attachments. With strips of steak and breasts of chicken arranged on a marble slab, they lit the mesquite and charcoal with a long match and grilled into the sunset.

Devout barbecuing people, the Petrenkos faithfully miniaturized the Great Outdoors in their backyard. It was nineteenth-century Manifest Destiny with candy-striped patio furniture. The kidney-shaped pool was as blue as Tidy Bowl water and the hose-fed slide, a kitsch Niagara Falls. Paths of crushed volcanic rock that stuck to bare feet wound between the tropical and jungly flowering greenery. The only way to leave without appearing desperate was through the patio door next to the grill, a door Ives Petrenko guarded with an oversized barbecue fork.

I’ll announce Barbecuing People‘s release here, of course.

I owe Tusk editors Lizzy Acker and Nate Waggoner (who also illustrated the piece) deep thanks for inviting me to submit this for their site. Read the whole thing!