Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monk Scraps

I'm in the midst of reading the copy-edited manuscript for MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS. My editor has made some trims and I agree with all of her cuts. But I thought you might get a kick out of this deletion:

We passed the turn-off for Buttonwillow & McKittrick, a collection of fast-food restaurants and gas stations right off the freeway. I didn’t know anything about Buttonwillow, except that it probably wasn’t as charming a place as it sounded. But I’d written a report about McKittrick when I was in fifth grade and I was tempted to terrify Monk by telling him what I knew.

It was a pioneer town that was built to serve the people who mined the natural tar that seeped out of the earth. Because of the intense heat and the sticky gunk, the miners worked in the nude. They wouldn’t bother cleaning up for lunch, they just gather naked and covered with tar, and sit on newspapers in the communal mess hall. At the end of the day, they’d have to scrape each other clean with knives.

That was an image that would have haunted Monk but I took mercy on him and kept the story to myself.

The passage may still end up in a future MONK book. I have a file of deleted bits and pieces that were either cut in the writing stage or later during the editorial process. I never throw anything out.

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