Excerpt – The War Against the Assholes

The War Against the AssholesThe fine folks over at Saga Press (through their PR firm) were kind enough to send me a review copy of this book, but since I’m a bit backed up on my reading, I asked nicely if they could send me over an excerpt to share with everyone while you’re waiting on me to read the book and do an actual review. They obliged, and below you’ll find a nice excerpt from Sam Munson’s book, The War Against the Assholes. I should note that I had some issues with the formatting of the excerpt, so please excuse any strange bits and bobs as they are probably my fault and not that of the publisher.


The barrel hole steady. A dark eye. It echoed the bruise under the tip of her pale chin. “Just be calm, Michael,” said Hob. The crane moaned. “We’re getting close,” said Charthouse. I tried to crouch, to get stable. “Stand up,” said Alabama. I was still thinking about what she would look like naked. “Where did you get that bruise,” I said. “Listen to Charthouse,” she said. I was more concerned with the gun. “Did you come to us of your own free will,” he asked me. “Are you joking,” I said. “Don’t be disingenuous,” said Charthouse, “Alabama will shoot you.” “Yes,” I said. It was for the most part true. “With no promises or inducements,” he asked. I looked at Hob. “You gave me all that whiskey or whatever it was, does that count,” I asked. “‘Whatever it was,’” said Chartreuse. “That’s eloquent,” said Alabama. “Does not count, by the way,” said Vincent. The wind moved the loose cloth of Charthouse’s dark windbreaker. Purple, eggplant purple. White stripes down the sleeves. A robe. I thought, His windbreaker looks like a robe. I am literal minded. Secret of my success. Such as it is. “And what do you mean it’s the valley of bones,” I said. A stupid question. “It’s a metaphor,” said Alabama, “now get moving.” “But what do you mean, though,” I said. Another stupid question. “Son, you know what she means,” said Charthouse. Alabama twitched the gun toward the outer edge of the platform. “Turn and get walking,” she said, “or you know the deal.” I didn’t move. She widened her stance. My bladder ached. I thought about pissing myself. I didn’t. I walked up to the platform edge and stared down. More levels like the one we stood on, more blaring lights in cages. I heard a clicking sound. I knew it was Alabama chambering a round. Drawing back the hammer. Had to be. “All right, you ready,” said Charthouse. “For what, ready for what,” I said. “You should feel lucky,” said Charthouse, “few get the chance.” “He doesn’t look ready,” said Vincent. “Shut up,” said Hob, and then to me: “Don’t listen, it’s totally fine, trust me.” This I had trouble with. “I don’t know what the salto is,” I said, “and I don’t know how to take it.” “I trust you can figure it out,” said Alabama. “She’s right,” said Charthouse, “it’s not genius-level perception we’re talking about here.”

At the bottom of the shaft, two-by-fours, cement sacks, eleven wheelbarrows. I counted them twice. A yellow hard-hat topping a pile of white dust. “Valley of bones,” crowed Charthouse. “I don’t see any bones,” I said. I knew I was going to die. These cocksuckers were going to kill me for no reason. “You lack a sense for poetry,” said Charthouse. True. I’m no poet. I’m no philosopher, either. I wasn’t then. I was a kid suffering an already-coming-on hangover, standing on top of a building with a hot girl pointing a gun at him and ordering him to take the salto. “I don’t know what that means,” I said, “I don’t.” “Just jump,” said Hob. “Or she’ll shoot you,” said Vincent, “and I’ve seen her do it before.” You could tell by their reedy voices they were brothers. In the shaft, wind-carried fragments of paper circled. On the streets below, the amber and red lights of cars. The air smelled like snow. “Nothing hard to understand about it,” said Alabama. “He’s not going to do it,” said Vincent. “I didn’t say that,” I called. “You have a point,” said Charthouse, “but you need to decide.” I pushed my toes over the wooden lip. “Can I just ask you one thing real quick,” I said. “Last question,” said Charthouse. “How does the rug get back down flat if you close the hatch behind you when you come down. In the store, I mean.” Charthouse hooted a long laugh. The cold wind whistled. “You’re an observant guy,” he said. “And you might even find out. But right now you need to decide.” So I decided. I didn’t want to get shot in the back. I took three breaths. I clenched my teeth. I leaped into the empty air.

Excerpted from THE WAR AGAINST THE ASSHOLES by Sam Munson. Copyright 2015 by Sam Munson. Published by Saga Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Sam Munson’s writing has appeared in n+1, Tablet, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National, The Daily Beast,Commentary, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Observer, The Utopian, and numerous other publications.
His first novel, The November Criminals, is being adapted into a film starring Ansel Elgort and Chloe Moretz, and will be released by Sony Pictures Worldwide in spring 2016.
His latest novel, The War Against the Assholes, is out this summer from Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press. He lives in Harlem with his wife and son. Visit him on the web at http://sammunson.com/