The First 750 Words

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The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad


The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad by Roger Boylan


Miming the petulant moue of, say, a Roman sensualist of the post-Antonine era, or a Regency brat under the Younger Pitt, Michael T. “Mick” McCreek’s face, that interesting preface to the rather ordinary rest of him, buried itself pillowdeep in a vain attempt to avoid the probing rays of the rising Irish sun, a weak sun at best but a game one, bedad, and not a sun to be shut out of the bedroom window of Flat 16A, Padre Pio Houses, by a mere flimsy curtain or so. Indeed, by shining persistently and directly onto your man’s Romano-Regency face, it illumined in an unwelcome, glaring red glow the intricate Mississippi-delta network of his inner-eyelid veins. He grumbled. Slowly, sleep ebbed as sufficient time dragged itself along, with the lame determination of a hunchback in heat, to accommodate the twin phenomena, one tactile, the other aural, of 1) warmer sunshine splashing onto Mick’s gob and 2) a car outside starting up with hiccupping roars exacerbated by much boot-to-the-floor pedal-pumping followed by the gear-grinding diminuendo of exceedingly slow departure.

There goes that Indian dickhead (shouted the uninvited thought-announcer in Mick’s brain) at the wheel of his effing old Escort that he should have sent to the junkyard long since, the stingy wee bastard, turning his lights off in the middle of the night and spewing clouds of burnt oil left right and center and no bloody notion in the world of how to shift into first…!

With all this external din and internal mind-palaver Mick was distracted, uneasy, a failed sleeper; in fact dangerously near wakefulness and getting closer all the time, what with one thing and another—his Indian neighbor’s departure, the sun scorching his face, the new day’s being Monday. It was a full sixty-second minute or more before the perfect (indeed only) solution wormed its way into his awakening brain: Turn over, son!

He obeyed, and was at once conscious of a coolness of visage counterbalanced by a rapidly warming spot on the nape of his neck where Old Sol, still staring through the halfhearted window-curtain, now focused his gaze. Of course, it was the morning, and Mick did have a job, however ludicrous (very: assistant test driver for Jocelyn Motors); give him credit, though, he was a realist, by and large, and that morning he was, consequently, soon out of bed and well downstairs, in fact in the immaculately white kitchen itself, blearily scrutinizing the controls of his birthday coffee-maker, last year’s (and no doubt last, as in lifelong) gift from Eileen, his ex, on the occasion of his fortieth.

“Nice of her,” he mumbled. “But how typical, for God’s sake, to give me something I don’t know how to use.”

The words Oh Eileen by the holy Christ I miss ya my sweet machree ah God so I do me own darlin’ girl trembled unwailed in the air. He did miss the woman, too, especially her thigh and hip area and its oft-kneaded amplitudes, but not enough to call her up, or make (re-) overtures, not with her tendency to plunge into the warm bath of Monologue, or was it Soliloquy. . .God, was she a gabber, anyway, and getting worse with age.


He preferred to let things follow the zigzag route of their own unpredictability. 

 The coffee-maker could wait its turn, or disappear entirely. And anyway My Three Buns, the place down the road, brewed up a matchless Arabica, or Colombian, or was it Brazilian—something hot, moist and dark, anyway, like the inside thigh of an Andalusian whore, plus caffeine. . . Mick, mentally stirred (if also slightly shaken) at this thought, whistled shrilly the second theme of Mimi and Rodolfo’s love duet from Madama Butterfly by G. Puccini as he sought and successfully deployed navy tie, sky-blue shirt, and crimson underhose (with white piping). There ensued a quick tussle with the belt and trews, a smooth scrape of the stubble and the cursory tremor of a comb in the hair—and presto! Mick McCreek reporting for duty, sir! Not that he ever so reported, or called anyone “sir;” and of course the effing job was on the other side of town, and naturally his frigging car was in the shop, but what could you expect from a five year-old Jocelyn GT with twelve valves to the competition’s twenty-four?

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Roger Boylan is an American writer with family roots in Ireland and the New York area. Raised in Europe, he attended the University of Ulster and the University of Edinburgh. He lived in New York City for many years, working as a teacher, translator, bartender, and freelance editor. His novel Killoyle, which Publishers Weekly called “a virtuoso performance,” is published by Dalkey Archive Press, and is currently in its fourth printing. A second novel, The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad, is published by Grove/Atlantic, New York. The Village Voice said it “resembles Joyce at his comically prolix best.” German versions of both novels, translated by the award-winning German translator and author Harry Rowohlt, have been critically and commercially successful. The third volume in the Killoyle trilogy, The Maladjusted Terrorist, was published in Germany as Killoyle Wein und Käse in 2006. In 2007, all three novels were reissued in German by Kein & Aber, Zürich, as a boxed set. In 2012, shortly before his death at age 89, the famous editor Barney Rosset enthusiastically accepted The Maladjusted Terrorist for serial publication in his legendary Evergreen Review. The first excerpt was published in the Spring 2012 issue.

Boylan’s novel The Adorations, dual narratives on historical themes, is published as an e-book by the Olympiad Press.

As a critic and essayist, Boylan is a regular contributor to Boston Review, and his work has appeared in many journals and reviews, including The Economist, The New York Times Book Review, The Literary Review, The Scotsman, and The Texas Observer. He currently lives in Texas.

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