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    A sampling of recent writing, including fiction, nonfiction, a brief literary essay, a review, and some silliness.
Bruce Seaton
Recent Prose
a grey room.
original composition.
enjoy as you read.
The Lake

She curled and uncurled her slender toes in the uncut grass and felt the cool soft scratch of it against the tender arch of each foot individually. The trunk of the big beech tree was smooth against her back and lightly populated with the carved initials of lovers who came here to drink wine and make love in the fragrant grass.

Out on the lake in the sticky heat was a boat. It was about half a mile from the place under the tree near the shore where they’d spread their blanket. A man dozed in the little fishing boat with his hat pulled down over his eyes to block the sun. 

The lake was a long narrow oval with the dome of the beech tree tall at one end. The boat was near the far shore of the lake that lay smooth and very deep between the beech tree and the dense triangular pocket of forest on the low hill at the other end. The man and the boat were very still on the silent surface of the lake.
She imagined a loop of fishing line around his toe to wake him if anything bit. It would jiggle softly at first and the bobber would bounce down and up as if in some tiny gravity flux at the surface of the water. Then it would disappear suddenly and rouse the man with a sharp tug, rippling the water, and he would come awake blinking against the light and then happily grumbling and cursing he would scramble for his rod. The idea excited her.

It was a ridiculous notion. The man was foolish if he thought anything would bite in this heat with the sun so far overhead and bright on the water. The lake was clear its smooth bottom, and even the dark slick catfish that haunted the bottom of the lake would be hiding.

She imagined all this and smiled. Without looking away from the man in the boat she traced with her nails the pattern of the tattoo on the bare arm of the boy beside her. The great red and blue tattoo ran from his wrist to the root of his shoulder. He grunted softly without moving and she smiled again and leaned her head against the smooth beech tree.

The boy murmured something she couldn’thear.

“Mmm?” she asked.

“There’s a bug on my neck. I can feel it.”

“Where? Oh, I see. It’s not a bug, silly, just a piece of grass.”

“Oh. There’s a piece of grass on my neck.”

“There. Is that better?”


“See how well I take care of you?”


Later, the boy stood a little way off and knocked the cinder from the end of his cigarette into the grass and ground it out with the sole of one foot. She shifted and sipped the wine and rubbed her thumb up and down the thin neck of the glass and then placed the wide base of the glass on her thigh below the hem of her khaki shorts. She swallowed the sip slowly and a little ring of goose bumps rose in the skin around the cool glass.

“This is a good place,” he said.

“Yes. I used to come here with Harry sometimes.”

“You’re just making me jealous.”

“No. We used to come and picnic and then he would write those terrible poems about birds and I would sleep.”

“Did you spend all of your time with him asleep?”


“All of your stories about him are about sleeping.”

“Those were my favorite times.”

“He sounds like an interesting guy.”

“Don’t make fun. He was very sweet in his own way.”

“In his own way.”


The boy came back to the tree and lay down and poured himself a glass of wine and filled her glass and put his shirt back on. The sun had moved down nearer to the tops of the trees across the lake and the light was becoming golden and the man in the little boat still lay in the boat with just his hat and his feet showing above the lip. The boy saw her looking at him.

“Do you suppose he saw us?”

“He hasn’t moved for hours.”

“Maybe he’s dead.”

“No. He’s just resting.”


“That’s what I think.”

He laughed. “Maybe he just likes fishing.”

“He hasn’t caught a fish yet.”

“Maybe that’s not the point of fishing.”

“That’s what I mean.”

“Maybe he likes sleeping on the water. Ilike sleeping on the water.”

She looked out across the quiet water at the man in the boat and smiled knowingly.
REVIEW: by Tom Waits
Written for Altsounds.com

How can you choosejust one album and call it a "ClassicSounds" album? I mean, this isTom Waits. Since 1973's Closing Time, Waits has been one of the mostinfluential musicians in the world. He's changed the way songs are written, theway they're recorded, the way instruments are arranged and played, andchallenged the boundaries of genre and style. He has successfully sued bothFrito-Lay and Levi's for using vocal impersonators in their commercials (whichhe refuses to do himself). He's been covered by (this is a highly abbreviatedlist): Tim Buckley, Bette Midler, Meat Loaf, Bat for Lashes, Queens of theStone Age, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Bruce Springsteen (no, Springsteen did notwrite Jersey Girl--that was a Waits cover), Bob Seger, Tori Amos,Thrice, Bill Frisell, Gomez, Gov't Mule...
...and so on. So howcan you pick a representative album from nearly four decades and twenty-somealbums of music? Well, you can't, not really. But Waits really needsrepresentation on Altsounds, so we're going to give it the old heave-ho, pickour favorite five albums, and grab one of those out of a hat. Well, will youlook at that. Bone Machine.
And away we go...
Released in 1992, BoneMachine was Tom Waits's first album since 1987's Frank's Wild Years,and represented a major shift in Waits's sound. Beginning as a balladeer in the1970s, and moving into a highly experimental period in the '80s, BoneMachine is a return to a simpler, blues-based style. With thisstripped-down approach to music comes a tightly-arranged, percussion-heavystyle with no frills. Recorded largely in a giant concrete room in a studiobasement, the album's cave-like space reflects well the album's vocal andlyrical tone, which is always sombre, and often passes straight throughmelancholic and into macabre.
Murder, mortality,broken love, madness, and loss of innocence are common themes in thisstory-laden album, which hits the brain like a collection of RichardBrautigan's later short stories - each song is a brief, often agonizingvignette of a world that's not quite our own - but could be, like a series ofterrifyingly clear and instructional dreams. Bone Machine won the 1993Grammy award for Best Alternative Album, beating out nominees like The Cure's Wishand The B-52s' Good Stuff. It was an era of long stringy hair andrip-kneed corduroys, and then there was Tom Waits - the tweed-capped Dean ofFairy Tale Hell.
The term BoneMachine refers to a human - that is, an organic device built on a structureof bone, tissue, skin - but also connotes a level of automation, as if humansare not entirely their own masters. This connotation is strengthened by theinterview CD that was released in conjunction with the album, titled BoneMachine: Operator's Manual.
So who, we begin towonder, is the operator?
The album's firsttrack, The Earth Died Screaming sets the tone for the album with lyricsso wildly apocalyptic they come off as lost verses from Revelations. Drawingheavily from biblical imagery and featuring a percussive background reminiscentof a bronze-age factory, this track is very much a welcome to the BoneMachine madhouse:
Rudy's on the midwayand Jacob's in the hole,
The monkey's on theladder, the devil shovels coal,
With crows as big asairplanes, the lion has three heads,
And someone will eatthe skin that he sheds,
And the earth diedscreaming while I lay dreaming of you...
One of the few trackson the album to feature saxophone (which was used heavily during Waits's 80salbums), Dirt in the Ground hails back to his early ballad days, butwith the same necrotic twist as much of the rest of the album. This song is agreat example of just how much emotion it's possible to get into a vocalperformance. It's as if the song itself is twisting Waits's heart as he fightsfor every note. This is the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Hell is boiling over,and heaven is full,
We're chained to theworld, and we all gotta pull,
And we're all gonna bejust dirt in the ground.
The third track, Sucha Scream, exhibits the kinds of raucous and earthy/industrial soundtextures that would come to be a fixture of Waits's later albums, and portraysfor the listener some kind of mechanical, demonic, golem-like woman. She's afury. She's a valkyrie. She's Hecuba and Judith and Medea, and she fits rightin with the rest of Tom Waits's bizarre mythology. She's a scream.
She just goes clankand boom and steam,
A halo, wings, hornsand a tail,
Shoveling coal insidemy dreams...
The plow is red, thewell is full
Inside the dollhouseof her skull...
Each of the threeopening tracks openly identifies with a first-person dreamer character whobecomes less self-aware as the album progresses, as if forgetting himself inhis own dream, and the album, like a dream, wanders away from the theme intoother worlds, only to turn in on itself again and again.
All Stripped Down draws on spiritualand chain-gang song formatting with a call-and-response sequence. The wholesong sounds like it's been recorded in a pine box and put through a meatgrinder. This kind of production can be a little weird to get used to.
Who Are You is a heartbreaking(and more than a little spiteful) one-sided address to an ex-lover. As the songwas co-written by Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennen, we'll assume the songis completely fictional. At least, we'll hope it is. It takes the format of aminimalist folk ballad, with a free-verse lyric format. This is one of thosesongs that, if it caught you at the right (or wrong) moment, could make youbreak down and spend a day weeping on the floor:
I did my time in thejail of your arms...
Are you pretending tolove?
Well, I hear that itpays well.
How do your pistol andyour Bible
And your sleepingpills go?
Are you still jumpingout of windows
In expensive clothes?
Tom Waits is astoryteller, and sometimes he breaks from the song format entirely in order toprovide us with a spoken vignette. These are often humorous, sometimesterrifying, and always profound. The Ocean Doesn't Want Me is all ofthese things. I won't ruin your first experience with this little treasure byprinting any lyrics here. Do yourself a favor - listen to it before you look upthe lyrics online.
Jesus Gonna Be Here comes on like a greatdepression Mississippi delta hangover; spacious, raucous, and painful. Thehacking cough at the end of the tune merely bookends a wonderfully strained,slightly sentimental prediction of an inevitable end-time:
I'm gonna get myselfunfurled
From this mortalcoiled-up world
Jesus gonna be here,gonna be here soon.
A Little Rain is a pure semi-modernfairy tale, complete with dwarves, runaways, and mutilated minstrels. It's astory of leaving home in search of something, anything, better, and it'sanother heartbreaker. The words in print can't possibly convey the emotion ofthis tune, so just go find it when you've got a good corner to cry in.
A return to thejunkyard/industrial percussion-driven sound at the core of this album, Inthe Colosseum is a tale of decadence, of spectacle, and of the brutality ofentertainment. Although the elements come from Roman history, one can't helpbut feel that Waits is actually painting a picture of modern life, perhaps astatement of the music industry itself, perhaps of our (then just beginning)obsession with so-called Reality television.
It's always much more sporting
When there's familiesin the pit
And the madness of thecrowd
Is an epileptic fit.
No justice here, noliberty,
No reason, no blame,
There's no cause totaint
The sweetest taste ofblood.
And greetings from thenation
As we shake the handsof time,
They're taking theirovations,
The vultures staybehind
In the colosseumtonight.
What can I say about Goin'Out West? This song is perhaps the best-used song on any soundtrack, ever.Watch Fight Club. It's the perfect song for Project Mayhem’s clubhouse jukebox.This is bad ass-ness in its purest form. It's ugly, it's raw, and it's justfriggin’ cool. If some mad scientist combined the DNA of Steve McQueen andMickey Rourke and bore them a son, this would be his theme song. This song hasa pistol and an eyepatch, and it'll make lewd passes at your sister.
I ain't no extra,baby,
I'm a leading man.
Well my parole officer
Is gonna be proud ofme
With my Olds '88
And the devil on aleash...
I don't need no makeup
I got real scars.
I got hair on mychest,
I look good without ashirt...
My friends say I'mugly
I got a masculineface.
I got drag-stripcourage -
I can really drive abed.
And I'm Goin' OutWest...
Murder in the Red Barn is another grislytale of - you guessed it - murder. But it's more than that. It tells a briefstory of a small-town community faced with a murder and the suspicion thatfollows it. Based loosely on an actual 19th century case (The Red Barn Murder)that gained enormous media attention in its day, Waits retells the story fromthe point of view of the townsfolk, while the murder itself hangs over thescene like a ghost. The music is minimalist, adding texture and tone more thantune.
And no one's askingCal
About that scar uponhis face
'Cause there's nothin'strange
About an axe withbloodstains in the barn -
There's always somekillin'
You got to do aroundthe farm...
Perhaps the mostmusically accessible song on Bone Machine is Black Wings. Thesong centers around a nameless figure, a classic lone rider (also,interestingly, made into a Christ figure), and the subtle, driving rhythm ofthe music puts you right in the scene, perhaps riding over hills, horseback,watching our hero, mile after mile. The character depicted in Black Wingsis what every gunslinger in history wanted to be:
Well they've stoppedtrying to hold him
With mortar, stone andchain
He broke out of everyprison...
Well he once killed aman with a guitar string.
He's been seen at thetable with kings.
Well he once saved ababy from drowning.
There are those whosay
Beneath his coat thereare wings.
Some say they fearhim.
Others admire him.
Because he steals hispromise
One look in his eye.
Everyone denies
Ever having met him
A song about a manfrom a small town with unrealized dreams of getting out, Whistle Down theWind is powerfully melancholic. It's a stunning example of Waits's abilityto create depth of character and draw emotion from a listener in a few brief lines.The accompaniment is sparse, and the heavy reverb (remember - recorded in acement-lined basement) on the piano and slide guitar match extremely well withWaits's powerful, gritty voice.
The bus at the corner
The clock's on thewall
Broken windmill
There's no wind at all
I've yelled and Icursed
If I stay here I'llrust
I'm stuck like ashipwreck
Out here in the dust
I Don't Wanna Grow Up takes a child's pointof view (or perhaps not--make up your own mind) as he views the lives of adultsand the miseries of daily life. Seemingly the most light-hearted song on thealbum, the humor of I Don't Wanna Grow Up acts as a veneer for a well ofresentment, fear, and critical observation. Waits must have had to replace thestrings on his guitar following the recording. I've never heard strumming thisaggressive.
Well when I see myparents fight
I don't wanna grow up.
They all go out anddrinking all night
And I don't wanna growup.
I'd rather stay herein my room
Nothin' out there butsad and gloom.
I don't wanna live ina big old Tomb
On Grand Street.
A bizarre transitioninto the closing track, Let Me Get Up On It sets the stage for ThatFeel, which Waits co-wrote with Keith Richards. Unlike the rest of thealbum, there doesn't seem to be any story present in That Feel, just...a feel. Exactly what feel Waits means isn't precisely described, but I think weall have that thing, that emotion, that soul response we can't get rid of, evenwhen we want to. This great little plodder closes the album out with relativelygood vibes, given the darkness Waits has plunged the listener into on the way.It's like waking up gently at the end of a long, dark, claustrophobicnightmare.
This is a demandingalbum. After the first dozen or so passes through it, it can become backgroundmusic to daily life, but it really wants to be listened to, and it willfight for your attention. It wasn't easy, for example, to write this review. Igenerally listen to whatever album I'm reviewing as I write the review, just tokeep myself fresh. In writing this, I found myself constantly going back andlistening to songs a second, third, fourth time, because I'd forgotten to writeanything while I was listening.
This is also atimeless album, and more than many of Waits's albums, is fairly approachable bythe uninitiated. Tom Waits is a musician's musician, a writer's writer, and asinger's singer. The fact is, what Tom Waits does is make incredibly goodmusic, and he has a nearly-unmatched ability to influence his listeners in waysthey may not want to be influenced. He's a puppet-master of words and melodies,and you should do yourself a favor and allow him to pull your strings.
Ithink we may have answered an earlier question, in fact. Spend an hourdiscovering why it's sometimes okay to not be fully in control. Allow Tom to beyour... operator.
1000 words: The Site

Truth is, no one knows where Jerry came from. He don’t talk much, and he especially don’t talk much about that. Not that he’s a loner, antisocial, anything like that. Just don’t talk much. When he talks, folks listen. He’s not old, it’s not a wisdom thing, he just says what he means and only says something at all if he’s pretty sure it matters, if you can dig that. Only heard him yell once, on a site when a cable gave out. Yelled his head off and saved some idiot kid on a smoke break from getting squished under ten tons of fourteen by sixteen I-beam. Kid heard Jerry yellin’ and moved quick.
            Jerry’s Hispanic, but nobody knows what brand. The Mexicans on the site say he’s not Mexican, don’t talk right for a Mexican. Don’t cuss enough for Mexican. Saito Chavez, the Peruvian foreman who retired last year, he said Jerry’s not from that far south, but outside of that, who can say? He don’t talk about it. One time this young kid, new crane-runner, green as hell and trying to make friends, he asks Jerry about it. So where you from, Jerry? Everyone gets real quiet, like maybe Jerry will tell. Like maybe he’ll rip the kid’s head off. No such. Jerry just smiles. Down south a ways, he says.
            Jerry’s a welder, mostly, but he can do it all. He runs loaders, crunches numbers, anything but talk to the buyer. Not that anyone ever asks him to. He don’t need to be runnin’ a shift to lead it, if you can dig it. He can look at a pile of broken pipes, bent ends, scraps, and tell you how much it weighs. Not approximate. Dead on. man knows his metal. Knows his material. Used to work at a deli, he says. Used to measure out pounds of hamburger and sausage and sliced cheese by hand. Says metal’s no different, just bigger, heavier. Most of the guys think that whole story is bullshit, but no one will ever call Jerry on that. Unthinkable, man. No one calls bullshit on Jerry. Not after he fell.
            See, there’s this thing that happened that no one likes to talk about at work, and it’s another reason not to ask Jerry his story. Mostly by now, no one asks ‘coz they’re afraid maybe he’ll tell. Some of the guys think Jerry’s one thing, some think he’s another, but no one’s really got an explanation for it. Don’t want one.
            So, yeah. This one time, Jerry’s down in a foundation. One of those big steel and glass jobs we built downtown on Garden. Forty-two stories. Five basement levels. Big foundation. Long way down, and Jerry’s welding something to something else, just one more weld before quittin’ time. No cement poured yet in the hole though, and just as Jerry finishes his weld the board walkway snaps under Jerry and he goes down into no-man’s land, down into fucking Limbo, welding tank goin’ down after him. Fifty feet to the bottom at least, probably more like sixty. Big rebar stakes at the bottom, waiting for the foundation pour.
It’s late in the day and the sun’s almost down. Dark down there. abyss-type dark down there, just dirt and steel and dark. No one can see him, but everyone knows he’s dead, smashed on the ground or probably skewered like a marlin on three or four rebar stakes. No one really wants to see what’s down there waiting, but we gotta find him. Everyone’s screaming, some calling to him, some yelling for rope and lights. Takes ‘em twenty minutes to get the spots pointed down in that pit and even then at first we can’t see him. There’s the tank, sure, and the broken board, right where they should be, but no Jerry. Nowhere to be found.
            Then someone yells dammit, Jerry, you scared the piss outta us and then we all see him, sitting against the wall of the pit, smoking a cigarette in his plaid shirt and his jeans and work boots, grinning up into the light, one hand shading his eyes. Just grinning. When we haul him up all he says is what took you fellas so long? Not a scratch on him, just dust on the ass of his jeans from sitting in the dirt for half an hour, if you can dig it. Not a bruise or nothin’. Damnedest thing any of us ever saw, man.
            But the weirdness didn’t stop with Jerry’s fall. Thing is, next day four guys on the shift called out of work. Not Jerry. He worked a long shift next day same as always, like nothin’ happened. But people talk, and yeah, the rest of it was pretty weird, too. Never heard of anything like it, and in this business you hear all kinds of weird shit. Bodies buried in foundations, curses on worksites, whatever. Maybe just coincidence. Maybe just luck, but nobody I know really believes in either of those things. I sure don’t.
Dudley the crane operator had a bum knee, something with the cartilage. Spent six weeks in physical therapy. Carter, the shift manager, woke up next morning and his lung collapsed. No known cause. Got to the hospital, fixed him up. Back on his feet and working a week later. Never figured out what was wrong with him. Billy Dee Preston slipped a disk in his back and never worked a site again. Got a desk job in the field office. And I woke up the morning after Jerry’s fall with my hand swole up so bad I couldn’t hardly give the boys the finger when they talked about it. looked like someone had run the damned thing over, and felt about that way, too. Went to the doc. Took blood, all kinds of tests and scans. No allergies, no broken bones, no reason. Swelling went down about a week later and I got back to work.
Damndest thing, man.
One night in early spring, when it was still cold after the low sun sank, I sat out late on the porch. It was a good porch, with screens for the summer and a soft, low light. The evening spring breeze murmured in the first leaves, and it was very peaceful. The cat, Peter, had gone out some time before to lurk among the bare bushes, the white patch of his chest a still form in the darkness just beyond the lamp’s furthest reach.
When he returned, he carried—dragged—a dying woodpecker in with him through the hole he’d scratched in the screen door. Peter had a refined taste.
The brown bird was silent, her chest fluttering and her eyes wide in pain and terror. Peter wanted the bird to play, but she simply sat on the spot Peter had dragged her to, and no amount of batting would cause her to stir.
After a few minutes of watching Peter play with the bird, I stood, turned off the lamp, and went inside and lay down in the bed. In the morning, exhausted, I swept up the feathers left behind.

Chris Forhan's Memory Tumbler: An Essay

The text of the poem discussed in this essay can be found at the following link, until someone cries ‘foul’ or the blogger (a fellow English teacher) removes the poem:
            In his poem 
Rock Polisher, Chris Forhan uses the subject of a rock tumbler to explore ideas of memory and poetry simultaneously. A rock tumbler is a machine, generally consisting of a cylindrical barrel with a slightly oblong axle, into which stones, water, and polish of varying grades of grit are poured. The motorized barrel then slowly revolves in a sort of cradle over a period of days or weeks, until the stones within have been rounded and eventually polished.
Rock Polisher opens with a second-person description of such a tumbler, bought and tested by a (your) father and given to a child (you) to be kept in the basement utility closet for the polishing of semiprecious stones. As various items are added to the tumbler, however, the nature of the machine begins to change.
            First are added stones one would expect to polish in such a machine (jasper, agate, amethyst). Soon, however, we are adding pavement stones and glass cabinet knobs—atypical tumbling materials, and possibly dangerous to the continued operation of the machine. Within a few lines, Forhan has removed any possibility of literal interpretation as a baseball and mitt join a series of past experiences, many of which have no tangible associated relic, in the polishing machine.
            In the final (
polishing) phase of the poem, the memories themselves have given way to grandiose comparisons which become the focus of the tumbler’s gyrations. The sky—perhaps associated with a specific but unnamed memory—is poured into the tumbler and dubbed Mozart’s or Christ’s. Finally,you and your family are poured in and declared “perfect at last.”
            In this way the poem deals with the idea of experiences, which like the tumbler’s stones, are cycled through the mind over a period of days, weeks, years, until they have become memories, which like the polished output of the machine may contain the same core as the past experiences that formed them, but often look—and feel—very different. This polishing action of memory is what permits each of us to remember so many things perhaps more fondly than they deserve—it allows for the good old days.
            Even experiences that might have been bitterly devastating at first—a no-win little-league baseball season or a snowless Christmas, for example—become bittersweet after a good mental polishing. The way we replay memories, focusing on the good and explaining away the bad is well represented by the image of one “crouched / above the barrel, feeding it.”
            The poem’s form also operates as a mirror of a rock tumbler. Though Forhan does not make use of a strict meter or rhyming pattern, the poem’s regular use of assonance and consonance give the poem a cyclical action, and short bursts of regular metered feet (particularly iambs, trochees, and anapests) introduce a sloshing action to the reading similar to the sound created by the oblong axle which helps a rock tumbler polish all sides of the stones it contains equally. The sound of a rock tumbler is regular and cyclical, but with each turn of the barrel the rocks jostle each other differently, making its quiet grinding sound nearly hypnotic. Forhan seems to be focused on this inexact but rolling motion in his phrasing. It is rhythmic and at times percussive (“the grit kit’s yours now, the silicon / carbide pack. Split it, have at it”), though not musical in a classical sense, and more akin to spoken word poetry than to any classical poetic form.
            Though the sectional nature of the poem (rocks, experiences, memories) would suggest that the poem be broken into stanzas, Forhan lets the piece stand as a single thirty-six line continuum. Like the plodding operation of a rock tumbler, the poem turns on and runs. The reader is not permitted a peek at the things put in and spun quietly in the utility closet until the poet has finished grinding them to a shine. The figure of the (
our) father appears only to bookend the poem, first as presenter of the memory-tumbler, and again at the end, following a period of polishing by “God’s mercy, perfect at last.” Though it should be noted that much of Forhan’s poetry deals with the loss of his father, death is not a necessary interpretation for the here-and-gone nature of the father figure in this piece; memory, particularly the mental recycling of experience, is an intensely personal activity and requires no others present until one opens one’s own rock-tumbler and brings out shiny old memories to share.
100% Genuine Fake Video Game News Item: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood inspires reading. Kind of.

Following the release of 
Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, literary publisher Really Old Books released a statement regarding sales of The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. Young fans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise seem to have been buying the Florentine theorist’s most famous political tract by the boatload:
“We’ve never seen anything like it,” said R.O.B. spokesman Mark Peters. “This stupid book has been around for five hundred years, and suddenly we can’t keep it in stock.”

We took a poll to see how young fans of 
AC: Brotherhood reacted to the book. Of the 105,502,974 kids we asked,
1% intended to use Machiavelli’s ideas to start their own city-states in their parents’ basements 
11% had no idea what the book was about
27% thought it was a novelization of Assassin’s Creed and intended to return it
59% had tried to skip to the dirty bits, discovered none, and lost the book under the couch
2% severely injured themselves attempting to climb their school gymnasium with scissors stuffed up the sleeves of their Gears of War hoodies