Here are the opening passages of Pleasuring and my unpublished novels. Hopefully they will give some hint of the story that follows.
The Pleasuring of Men
When Mr. Neil Smythe became a roomer in our brownstone, my brother Stewart scowled and wondered if the subtle scent he gave off was cologne or “hair slime”; my mother declared his last name “elegant, and so much nicer than Smith”; and I said nothing, knowing that I’d just met the handsomest man in the world.
The British ship Royal from Bristol, plowing heavy seas with a cargo of sheet iron and rods, dog collars, nails, and spittoons to be dumped on the Yankee market. Crammed in steerage are eighty queasy passengers likewise to be dumped on the Yankees, among them Henry Summers of Gloucestershire, twenty-six, a tailor, thin, sallow, shy, hard-working though not immune to gin, emigrating with his wife Ann and infant daughter Caroline (their meager funds sewn in his shirt), anxious to get established in the city; object: financial betterment; destination: any decent boardinghouse, New York.
Junius: The Story of an Obsession
It takes an obsession to spark up a life, give it tang and drive. Mine began one day when I was twelve and I was riding with my father in his gig, a light two-wheeled carriage that he delighted to drive about the city in, eyeing the traffic and the crowds. “See those houses, Junius? Those are brownstones. That’s where the gentry live.”
The Eye That Never Sleeps
At the sight of Dagger Jack and Kid-Glove Rosie, followed by Snoozer Bill and Mother Roach, Jimmy Fingers and Sugar Nell, Baboon Mike and Princess Lil, and a host of other couples promenading hand in hand around the hall to the screech of fiddles, a banjo, and tambourines, Sheldon Minick tried hard not to stare.
The Lady of the Chameleons
“Color!” Mr. Hicks, the managing editor, had told me. “That’s what this story needs – color!”
So there I was at the Majestic, a huge new palace of a theater on Broadway near Twenty-third Street, waiting with some thirty other reporters gathered in a large reception room for the first interview in the U.S. with Mathilde Mesnard, whom many people – Mr. Hicks among them – considered the greatest actress in the world.
South Street was crackajack. As always, the moment I set foot there, my brain began to tingle. Bowsprits of anchored sailing vessels – some of them Harmony vessels -- jutted high in the air overhead, while stevedores hustled huge bales and barrels and crates onto wagons or off of them, and iron-wheeled drays clattered on cobblestones amid smells of whale oil and sawn wood and brine.
Dinner of Dreams
Greetings to you on this blessed day, dear brethren, and may the Lord bring peace to your hearts. I see among you the citizens of four counties, both wakened and unawakened, the children of God and the children of wickedness, though the two can have little fellowship together. Knowingly or not, you have come for a Great Purpose, to witness the Flame of the Word, and I promise you, it shall blaze.
So here I am again in the Tombs in a cell six feet by eight with just a slit of a window and like always it’s cold and damp and foul and the food is a mess of a stew so the inmates won’t need forks or knives which could be used as weapons but Mrs. Hawkins of the SPC the Society for the Prevention of Crime come to see me and talked with me and wants me to write my story so it’ll keep me straight and square and help other lost souls (she talks a lot about souls I says I didn’t know I got one guess it’s something that you have but can’t noway see like hunger or dignity or gas) – there! I managed a whatchamacallit parenthesis she says I oughta use them and other stuff and give me a dictionary for my spelling but I’m no good at commas and semicolons and such so she’s helping with spelling and making paragraphs cause she says my sentences run on like a New York Central freight train with boxcar after boxcar and no end in sight since I got a lot to say so when I start the words just tumble out like barrels from a warehouse or vomit or the flux all my loves and hates and grudges and the ups and downs of it and every deal of graft I ever done and the green goods game and how I got famous testifying before a committee of senators and playing myself in a play and my time in an asylum among the loonies but every so often I got to catch my breath so I call a halt and just put in a period. Like that. But not for long.