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By Victor LaValle

Ricky Rice is a middling hustler with a lingering junk behavior, a bum knee, and a haunted brain. A survivor of a suicide cult, he scrapes via as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, long island, till someday a mysterious letter arrives, summoning him to enlist in a band of paranormal investigators made out of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had sooner or later of their wasted lives heard what could have been the voice of God.

Infused with the beauty of a disquieting dream and laced with Victor LaValle’s fiendish comedian sensibility, Big Machine is a mind-rattling secret approximately doubt, religion, and the monsters we supply inside us.

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Peach Tree reached out and smacked me on the shoulder. I wouldn’t even look at him. The little man sneered, showing his off-white teeth. ” He paused and undid his jacket. ” “You don’t know me,” I said. “I know what happened in Cedar Rapids. ” A few of the others looked at me now, sidelong glances of judgment. The little man walked to a chair and pulled it out for himself. “Oh, I know about all of you. Don’t go acting like he’s the only one. You bunch of crackheads and criminals. Sit down already!

I didn’t bother with my gloves, and pretty soon my hands dried out. Digging into the salt made my fingertips bleed. It only took me about fifteen minutes to do one side of the station. Then I moved out to the parking spaces, but when I looked back at the building, it had disappeared. The snow came down like a shroud and I couldn’t see the cars behind me, and I stood alone in the storm. You made a promise in Cedar Rapids in 2002. Time to honor it. How did they know? Wind got into the hood of my parka and raked across my face, so I shut my eyes and moved with one hand out in front of me.

Or willing. Now I saw it. The interior lights smoldered, and the Library glowed bleakly in the great woods. It looked like God’s gravestone. 7 YOU’D THINK I’D SLEEP for twenty-four hours after that long trip, but I only passed out for five. Awake by eleven, I strolled around my cabin as if its four rooms made it a manor. Bedroom, living room, bathroom, and kitchen. I felt pretty giddy about each one. Nothing too fancy. There weren’t mink blankets or platinum faucets or whatever the wealthy buy with their loot.

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