Parnucklian for Chocolate
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132 pages

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As a small child, Josiah believed that his father’s absence could be explained by the simple fact that he was a high ranking alien official on the planet Parnuckle. It explained so much else, too, like why Josiah should eat nothing but chocolate (Parnucklians eat nothing but chocolate), and why he should be proud of and idolize his father, the Keymaster of Gozer, even though they’d never met.

But as time goes on and the gaps in this mythology widen, Josiah is faced with two possibilities: either it’s all very real or it’s all very pretend. This betrayal comes into sharper focus when, three weeks before his sixteenth birthday, Josiah is released back into his mother’s care after two years in a group home. His mother is about to marry Johnson Davis, and when Josiah, his mother, Johnson Davis, and his daughter Bree Davis—a prematurely mature girl with her own history of parental betrayal—attempt to live together as an all-American nuclear family, the myths underpinning all of their lives come chaotically and absurdly unspooled.

This startling, stylish, hilarious debut novel explores what it means to grow up an alien in your own family and your own life. It’s a story about the secret, solitary lives of kids held hostage by the caprices of their caretakers. In Parnucklian for Chocolate, B.H. James has taken the alien heart of family life and made it recognizable and relatable to all—extraterrestrial or otherwise.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 mars 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781597092791
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


  
b.h. james
a novel
Red Hen Press | Pasadena, CA
Parnucklian for Chocolate
Copyright © 2013 by B.H. James
All rights reserved

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner.

Book design and layout by David Rose

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

James, B. H., 1978­-
Parnucklian for chocolate : a novel / B.H. James—1st ed.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-1-59709-790-1 (alk. paper)
eISBN 978-1-59709-279-1
1. Domestic fiction. I. Title.
PS3610.A4275P37 2013

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the James Irvine Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation partially support Red Hen Press.

First Edition
Published by Red Hen Press
Thanks to Leaf Garden for publishing “Parnucklian for Chocolate,” a short story version of the opening two chapters, and Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review for publishing “Alien Abductions, Typically Speaking,” a version of chapter five.
Much of this novel was written during my time in the University of Nebraska Low Residency MFA program. I would like to thank the program’s directors, Jenna Lucas-Finn, Art Homer, and Richard Duggin, as well as all of the UNMFAW faculty, especially my workshop facilitators: Pope Brock, Brent Spencer, Allison Adele Hedge Coke, Patricia Lear, and Richard Duggin, with special thanks to Leigh Allison Wilson and Karen Shoemaker, their kind encouragement being greatly appreciated. Thanks also to my fellow UNMFAW students, in particular my comrades in arms Stephanie Austin, Terry Kelley, Jen Lambert, and Natalia Trevino.
Deserving much gratitude are my four MFA mentors, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Jim Peterson, Kate Gale, and Amy Hassinger, all of whom were instrumental in the development of this novel. I would like to particularly thank Kate—for seeing and believing in what I couldn’t—along with Mark Cull and all of the wonderful staff at Red Hen Press.
Finally, thanks to my lovely Liz, for her eye, her ear, her encouragement, and her love.
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen

T hree weeks before his sixteenth birthday, Josiah was allowed to move back in with his mother, who had been impregnated with him during an alien abduction her freshman year of college. Josiah did not move back into the home he had grown up in—the home he had lived in with his mother—but rather Josiah moved into the home of Johnson Davis, his mother’s new fiancé. Johnson Davis, with whom Josiah’s mother had been living for the past four and a half months, also had a child: a girl, seventeen, fully-human, named Bree, who also lived in the home of Johnson Davis, but only on the weekends.
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When Josiah first saw Bree, he thought she was pretty. He thought her hair was shiny, and he liked the way she looked in her soccer uniform. When she looked at him for the first time, she smiled. He looked away.
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Growing up, Josiah ate nothing but chocolate. He ate chocolate for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and, of course, he ate chocolate for dinner. Chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownies, chocolate donuts, chocolate candy bars and cake and mousse and pudding and his very favorite: chocolate cream pie.
Josiah’s beverages consisted of chocolate milk, chocolate milkshakes, hot chocolate, and chocolate flavored drinks such as Yoo-Hoo. The only beverage, and for that matter, the only nourishment whatsoever, that Josiah ever ingested that had not been made with chocolate or covered with chocolate, had been the occasional glass of ice water.
Josiah, however, was in perfectly good health. He had a relatively fast metabolism, and, more importantly, was not fully-human, thereby making him insusceptible to many of the nutritional laws that typically affect the human race.
“Other children, Josiah,” Josiah’s mother would often say, from the time he was very young, “cannot eat all of the chocolate they want. If they did, they would get sick and they would get fat. But your body is different. Your body is part-Parnucklian, and Parnucklians eat nothing but chocolate. It is their only food. Of course, they do not call it chocolate, because they speak Parnucklian, and the word ‘chocolate’ is an Earthling word. They call it Boboli, which is Parnucklian for chocolate.
“The planet Parnuckle,” Josiah’s mother would often continue, “which is the home planet of your father, and therefore is your home as well, will always be your home, even though you have never been there, and possibly never will, but it will always be there as your home, because it is the home of your father, just like this home, which is my home, and also your home, is also your home, even if you grow up and move far away, as long as you live, or unless I move to another home, but then that home will also be your home. Your father, on the other hand, will never leave Parnuckle, so that will not be an issue. Of course, that’s not quite fair, as it’s comparing a house on a planet to a planet. I, likewise, will never leave this planet, nor will this house, or any house I may be living in, either in the future or whenever.”
  
As Johnson Davis, Josiah’s mother’s new fiancé, pulled into the driveway of his home, Josiah’s mother leaned over the front seat to address Josiah, who was sitting in the back, and said, “Josiah, this is Mr. Davis’s home. This is where we will be living from now on.”
The home of Johnson Davis was larger than the home that Josiah and his mother had lived in. The home of Johnson Davis was blue and had two stories and unlike the home that Josiah had lived in with his mother, the home of Johnson Davis did not look exactly like the other houses on the same street. The home of Johnson Davis also had a large front lawn with green grass.
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Once, when Josiah was around five years old, he had gone with his mother to the grocery store to shop for groceries. Josiah had often gone with his mother to the grocery store because Josiah’s mother was a single mother and could not leave him home alone at that age, and also because Josiah was very attached to his mother and loved her very much. While in the bread aisle, shopping for little Boboli donuts, Josiah saw a plastic bag containing round bread with the word Boboli printed on it. Later, when he and his mother were in the car on the way home, Josiah told her about the bag. He was going to ask her if the bag that said Boboli could possibly mean that there were other people on this planet that spoke Parnucklian, maybe even part-Parnucklians like him, and he was also going to ask why the bag that said Boboli had some kind of round bread in it and no Boboli at all, but before he could ask, Josiah’s mother reached across the cab of the car and grabbed Josiah by the forearm, spearing her fingernails into his skin.
“Never interrupt Mommy while Mommy is driving,” Josiah’s mother said. When Josiah’s mother let go, Josiah watched as the little white half-moons on his arm turned pink and disappeared.
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Johnson Davis and Josiah’s mother led Josiah through the doorway and into the home of Johnson Davis. Inside the doorway was a square section of linoleum. The linoleum was white with blue checkered lines and was just big enough for Johnson Davis and Josiah’s mother and Josiah to all stand on at once, which they did after passing through the doorway. Johnson Davis and Josiah’s mother each lifted one foot and began taking off their shoes.
Johnson Davis encouraged Josiah to take off his own shoes by saying to Josiah, “Josiah, this is where we keep our shoes,” and stepping toward a corner of the square of linoleum next to the door and bending down onto one knee and placing his shoes, a pair of dark blue loafers, very carefully side by side in the corner and twisting his torso halfway around to receive the shoes of his fiancée, a green slip-on shoe with no heel which she handed to Johnson Davis already carefully aligned side-by-side and which Johnson Davis received two-handed, maintaining their alignment as he turned back toward the corner and placed the pair neatly beside his own. Johnson Davis then looked with anticipation toward Josiah, his two hands raised in Josiah’s direction.
Josiah took off his right shoe and then his left shoe. He held the two shoes side by side and handed them to Johnson Davis, who further aligned the pair before carefully placing them beside the other two. Johnson Davis then stood and extended his arm, waving it slowly across the space in front of him.
“Welcome home, Josiah,” Johnson Davis said as Josiah’s mother placed her hands on each of Josiah’s arms, just below the shoulders, and squeezed.
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Earlier that day, Josiah had been led to a

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