Luck Favors the Prepared
(non-fiction short stories)
Release date: September 8, 2017
at Take the Stairs Publishing
also in ebook
In his first collection of non-fiction short stories, Nathaniel Barber allows a peek inside the life observant. Luck Favors the Prepared is a straightforward read, shifting from remote and hilarious documentary to a lived-in memoir, dreamily recalling the absurd dark comedy of death and divorce, landlordship, family, role playing video games, high school, misguided activism, customer service and sudden, unexpected wardrobe failures.
As a son of the Pacific Northwest, his stories are nestled in the mossy bosom of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. His characters and rich dialogue are plucked from the past and set to life. They are belligerents and buffoons. They are the beautiful and the bewildering, plagued by dark and grotesque motives and juxtaposed with a loving objectivity that suspends judgement for a world where no one is defined by their worst deeds.
Luck Favors the Prepared is an unforgettable tour through the ordinary and unconventional—a full collection of real life and all its baggage, handcrafted by the hardest working nobody in contemporary literature.
Excerpt from Paris, France. Lynnwood, Washington:
That summer I was on exchange with Jerome, who was also thirteen years old. He lived just south of Paris.
Paris was unlike anything. France! Everything you’ve heard about the wonderful country, there to just—walk around, soak it up.
Jerome’s family kindly put me up in the oldest brother’s room (a camp counselor, he was away for the summer). It was too hot to sleep with the covers on and there were far too many mosquitoes to sleep without covers. Their tiny hum rang in my ears. I’d swat and slap them away, but moments later the brave pests would light again and again until, pockmarked with fiery bumps, I turned on the light and rolled up a copy of Les Inrockuptibles.
I worked until late at night, deliriously jet lagged and, tracking the tiny mosquitoes by their telltale buzz, smashing them with the magazine. Eventually I killed them all and the room was silent.
Riddled with itch, I fell asleep hard and didn’t wake up until Jerome’s mother opened the shades late the next morning, almost noon. She was yelling French, screaming at me and pointing around the room like a madwoman.
Blinking awake, I could finally see what she was pointing at: a grim horror scene, decorated by dark smears and splatters of my blood caked with a mash of legs and wings, the gored copy of Les Inrockuptibles by the bedside. We worked through lunch, for hours, scrubbing at the uncleanable eggshell of the plaster walls, my grumpy hostess grumbling unknowns as we scrubbed and scrubbed.
For the month I stayed with his family, we took the train to the city as much as possible. I had my first souvlaki. We made a dizzying tour of food and museums, cathedrals and alleys. As my guide, Jerome noted once, almost as an afterthought, a residence we were walking past used to be Victor Hugo’s. We took a weeklong trip to the Normandy coast, to the beaches American and Allied forces stormed on D-day.
I received my first kiss, from an English girl. She put her tongue down my throat right in front of her parents.
We spent a day at Mont St-Michel, saw the Château du Caen and the Bayeux Tapestry. These things were older than anything I’d seen. I certainly didn’t understand them, or their place in the world, but I was forever changed by the encounter.
The following month, Jerome came to stay with us, in our home in Lynnwood, Washington. We had a Costco and the Alderwood Mall and some parks. To a visitor or passerby, Lynnwood was most effectively introduced by the Black Angus Steakhouse next to the I-5 off-ramp. The restaurant’s massive, well-lit sign proudly called to the north and southbound travelers: Black Angus, except for the “g,” perhaps the most important letter on that sign, which fizzled out and remained unrepaired for several years.
It was late at night when we peeled off the freeway toward our home, the last leg in Jerome’s very long trip. His eyes were bleary but nailed to that sign, lips mulling an unsure translation. Finally he asked, “What is this: Black Anus?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nathaniel Barber’s writing is a deadpan examination of life’s banal cruelties. His stories bustle with compelling characters, rich dialogue and moving scenes narrated with an icy, satirical memoir, distilling comedy from otherwise devastating humorlessness.
His forthcoming collection of short nonfiction, Luck Favors the Prepared, recounts life as stumbling about a strange dark room, desperately patting the walls for a light switch. He is also completing a collection of fiction shorts and a book of adult poems for children.
He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and daughter and cat and a collection of bicycles in various states of disrepair. He works in the warranty department for an ergonomic furniture company. He does not use semicolons or Oxford commas.
Buy the book: Amazon