Happy Publication Day to Dark Things I Adore. I’m delighted to be celebrating publication day with an exclusive extract from this haunting novel.
Thank you to Titan books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2018
“That’s what I’m saying. My work should go there. Architecture of Radiance should go there.” I can hear the fight in him. The thinly veiled frustration. I’ve come to know his energies and emotions well over the many months we’ve been working together. “I’ve earned it. In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never made it into the Polk Room at all, forget about the Warhol spot. I know there is precedent for faculty art being shown in the Polk Room. You can’t tell me there isn’t precedent.”
“There is precedent, yes, but faculty art hasn’t been hung in the Polk Room in more than ten years. It just isn’t done anymore. You know that, Max. I’ve been here a long time, but so have you. You know how it works.” She sounds tired. Like this is an argument they’ve had many times before. “Trust me,” she sighs, “nearly every one of your colleagues has asked for that coveted spot. None of them will get it. It’s not personal. We have the Warhol, those few Picasso sketches in there, and the new Amy Sherold—”
“I am the institute’s most renowned faculty member and artist,” Max steamrolls her, his voice echoing down the corridor. I press my fingers to my lips, amused by his pluck. “It’s my faculty picture you push to the front of our website during admissions season every year. It’s my paintings and awards and write-ups and reviews you feature in alumni newsletters. Not Okende or Grant or Fitzherbert.” I smirk.
He has got some name recognition, and they use that to maximum benefit around here, it’s true. But he’s not the only one. And, to be honest, most of his notoriety is two decades behind him—and everyone knows it. Even Max. Especially Max. He was short-listed for the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Award in 1995 and hasn’t let anyone forget about it since. Most of what he’s done since then have been…lesser versions of those evocative works. As one of my crueler classmates put it, Max is an artist somehow derivative of himself.
“Max—” Switzer hisses, their voices echoing into the vacant corridor. “Stop this. You’re overstepping. We have a full roster of dazzlingly talented and well-regarded faculty here at our school. This is not the Max Durant Institute for the Visual Arts. This is the Boston Institute—”
“May as well be the former, and you know it.” I have to cover my mouth to keep from laughing my astonishment out loud. My eyes dart around the empty, gaping maw of the pinned-back double doors. They must be just off to the side. I can imagine Max, hands on hips, defiant, glowering down at the petite, choppy-haired Switzer, who no doubt is giving him as weary a look as he is giving her a ferocious one. “I helped make this place what it is. I’ve been here fifteen years. Fifteen years.”
“Yeah, I know how long you’ve been here, my friend. I got you the job, if you’d care to remember.” She sighs. I can imagine her rubbing the bridge of her nose, trying to ward off a growing headache. I hear her starting to move toward the exit. I spring up lightly and jog down the hall a little, leaning into a dark alcove so I can watch them unseen. What a fun bit of theatre my Max is constructing. She breaks into the hall first, followed hotly by Max.
“What a fucked-up thing to say,” Max says. “You didn’t get me anything.”
“You know what I mean. I’ve been here for twenty-four years, Max. I was instrumental in getting you a position here—” Max starts to growl in protest. “Which I was happy to do because you are a credit to this institution,” she says firmly but quickly, trying to head off his anger. “But this institution is also a credit to you. None of us should ever forget that.”
Max runs his hand through his black hair. It’s flecked with gray and long enough to have a handsome, foppish part. He tries another tack. “Think of the renaissance this place has undergone during my tenure.”
“Without a doubt. But you did not do it alone.” It’s like she’s talking to a petulant child.
“But I’m why you manage to get your grubby little hands on Picassos and Warhols and Sherolds in the first place. The Polk Room has the exclusivity it has because of people like me who have worked to make this place a destination. Even you must see that!”
“My grubby little hands,” Switzer growls, her voice dropping to something more secretive, angrier. “Max,” she says with barely contained rage, “we have known each other for many years. Many, many years. You are, somehow, one of my best friends. And that is the only reason I am not going to formally reprimand you. But remember yourself, man. I am the president of this school. I am your boss. So you’d better chill the fuck out.” Switzer has her laptop pressed to her side under one arm and is pointing directly in Max’s face with her other hand.
Max’s jaw grinds. “If I don’t get the Warhol spot in the Polk Room in our own Boston Institute Gallery over the summer, there will be hell to pay. And you will pay it. You.” He points right at her.
“Is that a threat, Max?” Switzer stands a little taller against his increasingly out-of-control tone.
A wolfish smile curls onto his lips. “No, Dana. No, of course not.” His voice softens, almost seductive. An about-face. “I—” He takes a breath, shakes his head out. It relaxes his countenance, makes him handsome and almost gentle again. “I’m sorry I lost my cool.” He breathes in through his nose, puts his fists on his hips. “You’re right—we are good friends. Excellent friends. We go way back. Which is why I know you will do the right thing here—”
“Max…” she groans, rubbing her eyes.
“I just feel that after all this time,” he pushes on, “and after all I have meant to the school, my body of work should speak for itself. That if there were ever a time for this institution to make a gesture on my behalf, after all I have done to bring acclaim to this place, that time would be now. That gesture would be this.” The two painters and professors look at each other. Switzer softens minutely at Max’s deep-blue eyes. I know the power of those eyes, of what they can do. I barely remember to breathe. Max and I have discussed this very thing many times at this point—his work going in the Polk Room. I know what it would mean to him. A silence has fallen between them, and Switzer seems to be relenting. “It would cost you nothing,” he goes on gently. “Nothing but a little humility. Which I know for you is asking a lot.” His tone shifts sharply, venomous.
Oh, Max. So close.
“You know what, Max, Professor Durant, why don’t you go take a flying leap.” Switzer turns away from him and storms around the corner. She’s completely disappeared within seconds. I look at Professor Durant, astonished at what I have just so publicly witnessed. To talk to the president of the institute that way—even if they do consider themselves friends.
He looks pleased with himself. I study him in this secret moment, in this hidden frame in the film reel, and I see that he is relishing the small pain he has caused her. He made her fight him, soften, and then take a sucker punch. But then the bright glimmer of pleasure on his face drops away as quickly as it came. Something stormy moves in within seconds. The pleasure of the snipe is gone. He’s left only with his failure. With that empty wall in the Polk Room. He grabs the edge of a nearby table and violently lifts and slams its legs once, twice, three times into the floor. I jump at the noise as it echoes around the hall. He lets go, sucks in air sharply between his teeth, and pulls his hand up—it must be bleeding. He
sucks on the skin between his thumb and forefinger.
His eyes finally fall on me.
Max Durant sees me. He removes his hand from his mouth, and like a mask, slides the charming smile I have come to know so well back on his face. His brow loses its storm, his vague snarl clears. Seeing me brings him back to himself.
Oh, yes, Max sees me.
And I see him, too.
If that has tempted you, here is more info to whet your appetite…
Three campfire secrets. Two witnesses. One dead in the trees. And the woman, thirty years later, bent on making the guilty finally pay.
1988. A group of outcasts gather at a small, prestigious arts camp nestled in the Maine woods. They’re the painters: bright, hopeful, teeming with potential. But secrets and dark ambitions rise like smoke from a campfire, and the truths they tell will come back to haunt them in ways more deadly than they dreamed.
2018. Esteemed art professor Max Durant arrives at his protégé’s remote home to view her graduate thesis collection. He knows Audra is beautiful and brilliant. He knows being invited into her private world is a rare gift. But he doesn’t know that Audra has engineered every aspect of their weekend together. Every detail, every conversation. Audra has woven the perfect web.
Only Audra knows what happened that summer in 1988. Max’s secret, and the dark things that followed. And even though it won’t be easy, Audra knows someone must pay.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Katie Lattari [Luh-tairy] holds degrees from the University of Maine and the University of Notre Dame. Her first novel, American Vaudeville, a small indie press work, was published in 2016 and had previously been a semi-finalist in Subito Press’s annual fiction contest in 2013.
Her short fiction has been published in such places as NOO Journal, The Bend, Stolen Island, Cabildo Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, The Writing Disorder, and more. Her short story “No Protections, Only Powers” was a finalist in the Neoverse Short Story Writing Competition and later anthologized in Threads: A Neoverse Anthology.
This coming September 14, 2021, her debut thriller Dark Things I Adore will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Katie now lives in Bangor, Maine, with her husband Kevin, and their cat, Alex.
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx