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Octavius the 1st

Gaylord Brewer

Publication Year: 2008

Admirers of Gaylord Brewer’s dark and lyrical poetry will be delightfully stunned by this frantic detour into fiction, Octavius the 1st. Against a backdrop of dog walking and the bloated throat sac of the male siamang gibbon, through a gauntlet of good ole home cookin’ and the beatific lunch specials of the deli Cheeses Christ, to a soundtrack of soap operas and his own labored breathing, our protagonist, Octavius Trotter—lonely, hungry emperor of his mind—gambles the world’s meagre wages of love and longing. Jonathan Livingston Seagull meets The Bridges of Madison County. A dollop of John Kennedy Toole, a swizzle of Kingsley Amis, a sprinkle of Joyce. This alternately tender and brutally hilarious long novella emerges as something new, yet still contumaciously, caustically, inimitably Brewer. You are about to enter the “Otto Zone,” and life is about to change.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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pp. i-vii

Part I. Rested and Ready

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pp. 1

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Chapter 1

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pp. 3-16

Sovereign and solitary, Octavius Trotter stood atop the stairs in the dark. Dark was better. His sense of surroundings keen. Well, not the truly dark, the unfathomable, the impenetrable, but this soft, murky dusk, something the eye, with patience, could accommodate. He felt the gaseous displacement of his body and allowed, ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 17-31

He stood in only t-shirt and slippers, Primitive Man beginning anew. The ariated cotton covering his unfortunate avoirdupois, unfaceable early, the slippers protecting his feet from cold linoleum. Without the latter, he would have immediately begun to sneeze, unstoppably so, and his delicate system soon translate a ...

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pp. 32-34

Upstairs, returned to the privacy of his water closet, Octavius felt exhilarated as each former excess was banished forever from his lightened form. As he sat, tingling and slightly dizzy from the last epiphanic release, it occurred to him again that these solitary, reflective moments were among the day’s best. Future ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 35-45

Octavius stood bound in the rain-qua-sleet, water in his eyes, wishing for death. Not his own death, of course, although a temporary cessation of sentience and tactile misery would be well-timed and welcome, but rather the painful and protracted death of the runt-Usurper. Actually, he was not a mean man, ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 46-56

Nap first, then an invigorating bath, that was the sensible order, reflected Octavius as he wrapped a stiff hand around the front knob. The Marauder, freed from restraint, scratched frantically, one could say rabidly, at the base of the door, bounding across the threshold as it opened. The QM, in the lounge chair ...

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pp. 57-60

Octavius, foggy from repose, jostled the little wooden pyramid as he attempted to place and straighten it upon the sink. Fine ashes spilled from its tiny entrance and the man cursed. Scooping the worst of this gray powder into his palm, he considered the dislodged ashes of the noble dead, the miniature ghosts disturbed ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 61-65

It was the lure of the fresh slaughter, the open fire, the meal on the twilight plain as sun retreated again to her fiery nest, that beckoned Man From His Cave. Octavius, sniffing the air, intuitive and primordial, didn’t feel half bad as he descended the stairs. Not positively good, perhaps, that might be taking ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 66-70

As Octavius surveyed the gory remains of the battlefield, he thought to himself that, just possibly, he had over-celebrated his day of diet and ascetic denial. He pushed himself from the table. So this, then, was Sunday. He decided to cross one leg over another and, after a moment, did so. With the assistance of ...

Part II. A Nice Blown Job

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pp. 71

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Chapter 7

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pp. 73-80

Pagliacci smiled mockingly, although not grotesquely so, and otherwise remained noncommittal to the round face filling his belly, assuming rather a we-shall-see attitude toward precarious fortune. Octavius stepped away and, making the most of the absence of any neckless, drooling dervish, bent deeply, slowly, ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 81-90

He descended to the basement and, so to speak, rolled away the stone as details of ambience returned to him: the musty smell underscored by fresh coffee, the peripheral aroma of meats and breads and miscellaneous soups and light cooking. To the left, timeless and untouched, the pastoral of Christ, his beneficent ...

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pp. 91-92

By the time he was in view of the street that would return him to his home (ironic quotes implicit), three-plus wheezy miles “under his belt” and under the throbbing mush of his former feet, the terrible euphoria of his momentum long-passed and only a residual hard-headedness-posing-as-pride resisting catching the ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 93-100

“POOR BABY! HURT HIMSELF THAT DAY HE PLAYED FOOTBALL. NO WONDER PUSHING THAT HEAVY CART TURNED YOUR KNEE AGAIN.” The QM positioned the platter of battered and fried pork chops on the table beside a tub of butter and squeezer of mustard. “BUT I NEVER . ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 101-108

Even to an ordinary imagination, the large young man on his knees in the dark appeared to be enacting some form of prayer and/or penance. Indeed, in the wavering lights of the screen, his face assumed a late, unearthly pallor. Each click of each buttoned function rang out preternaturally in the otherwise—save for the ...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 109-113

Despite a stiff neck and a detectable (and temporary?) loss of hearing in one ear, Octavius felt spry. If he did not absolutely leap from the bed, certainly one might say that he virtually bounded. The Marauder, apparently intuiting and irked by the room’s energy, soon took its leave, and by the time Octavius ...

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pp. 114-115

Before he leapt again into the suffering, celebratory miasma collectively known as The World, Octavius, warrior-priest preparing for battle, located on his closet shelf his prized WWII Austrian artillery bag, sturdy and olive-gray. Rescuing it from premature retirement between an unworn Whalers™ baseball ...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 116-123

At the bus stop, after an uneventful opening march, Octavius captured, first, his breath. He then removed from his rear pocket—granted, of the same trousers he had worn, but carefully and without detectable staining, the day before (and granted, the day before that)—the sandwich wrapper of Job’s predicament. ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 124-133

Over the canopy of trees, the barking screeches of the siamangs called to each and to all. Octavius admired the male’s inflated throat sac, its glossy black coat, the ease with which it crouched on a high limb indifferent to gawking audience. Across the island, its smaller mate hung comfortably from two preposterously, ...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 134-142

He awakened, if he had been asleep, wherever and whoever he was, to panicked voices, many, or, as he came around, two that he could distinguish, and others, muted, distant somewhere, the GD—he recalled what he was now, and where, although the why remained more elusive—and, pounding up the steps, the QM. ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 143-147

Outside the front door, newly delivered or unnoticed earlier behind the surrendered spikes of last year’s forsythia, Octavius discovered, discreetly and almost gently out of the way, a small reed basket of mottled oranges and grapefruits. He immediately intuited, while resisting a silent crow, the crux of the matter, and ...

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Coda: Succès fou

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pp. 148-150

... Sick of St. Moritz? Gorged on Gstaad? In Austria’s hamlets of Zurs and Lech (they even sound dirty!) there’s just the right mix of rustic chic, heavenly powder, and snow bunnies—royal and plebe alike, and plenty for every intrepid explorer. Get It Up and Go Go Go! Get your hands on these Twin Peaks while you can! ...

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About the Author

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pp. 152

Gaylord Brewer is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where he edits Poems & Plays. Two of his seven books of poetry were published by Red Hen, Devilfish (1999) and Barbaric Mercies (2003). His most recent collection, The Martini Diet ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781597092098
E-ISBN-10: 1597092096
Print-ISBN-13: 9781597090827
Print-ISBN-10: 1597090824

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: First