From this thread at sevenstring.org.
On a REALLY slow day at work ages ago, I posted one of my favorite passages from this novel to try to turn a couple people onto it, and since SS.org is always down I thought I'd repost it here. A buddy of mine had me read it, which got me hooked enough to go out and buy a copy of my own. I think that " administrative bones to pick with God... pro-death/anti-death" bit is fucking brilliant, personally (Hal's father, actually, both Hal's and Mario's (who Hal addresses as Booboo, a family pet name) committed suicide several years prior in a fairly messy manner that involved a microwave, a hacksaw to cut a space for his head, and a lot of tin foil, and as Hal was the one who found him he still has some pretty major issues surrounding it).
Other quick note, this is set at some point in the near future after the advent of subsidized time, where instead of, say, 2010, you get Year of Glad or Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland, where whoever bids highest gets to have the year named after them (idea being the American president had the idea while watching a football playoff game, something like the "Coca-Cola Ford Taurus Campbell's Johnson & Johnson Rose Bowl, brought to you by Budweiser").
YEAR OF THE DEPEND ADULT UNDERGARMENT
"Are you asleep?"
"Booboo, we've been over this. I can't be asleep if we're talking."
"That's what I thought."
"Happy to reassure you."
"Boy you were on today. Boy did you ever make that guy look sick. When he hit that one down the line and you got it and fell down and hit that drop volley Pemulis said the guy looked like he was going to be sick all over the net, he said."
"Boo, I kicked a kid's ass is all. End of story. I don't think it's good to rehash it when I've kicked somebody's ass. It's like a dignity thing. I think we should just let it lie in state, quietly. Speaking of which."
"It's late, Mario. It's sleepy-time. Close your eyes and think fuzzy thoughts."
"That's what the Moms always says, too."
"Always worked for me, Boo."
"You think I think fuzzy thoughts all the time. You let me room with you because you feel sorry for me."
"Boo, I'm not even going to dignify that. I'll regard it as like a warning sign. You always get petulant when you don't get enough sleep. And here we are seeing petulance already on the western horizon, right here."
“When I asked if you were asleep I was going to ask if you felt like you believed in God, today, out there, when you were so on, making that guy look sick.”
“Really don’t think midnight in a totally dark room with me so tired my hair hurts and drills in six short hours is the time and place to get into this, Mario.”
“You ask me this once a week.”
“You never say, is why.”
“So tonight to shush you how about I say I have an administrative bone to pick with God, Boo. I’ll say God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I’m not crazy about. I’m pretty much anti-death. God looks by all accounts to be pro death. I’m not seeing how we can get together on this issue, he and I, Boo.”
“You’re talking about since Himself passed away.”
“See? You never say.”
“I do say. I just did.”
“I just didn’t happen to say what you wanted to hear, Booboo, is all.”
“There’s a difference.”
“I don’t get how you couldn’t feel like you believed, today, out there. It was so right there. You moved like you totally believed.
“How do you feel inside, not?”
“Mario, you and I are mysterious to each other. We countenance each other from either side of some unbridgeable difference on this issue. Let’s lie very quietly and ponder this.”
“I’m going to propose I tell a joke, Boo, on the condition that afterward you shush and let me sleep.”
“Is it a good one?”
“Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic, and an dyslexic?”
“You get somebody who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there’s a dog.”
“That’s a good one!”
“Hey Hal? What’s an insomniac?”
“Someone who rooms for you, kid, that’s for sure.”
"How come Moms never cried when Himself passed away? I cried, and you, even C.T. cried. I saw him personally cry."
"You listened to Tosca over and over and cried and said you were sad. We all were."
"Hey Hal, did Moms seem like she got happier afte Himself passed away, to you?"
"It seems like she got happier. She seems even taller. She stopped travelling everywhere all the time for this thing and that thing. the corporate-grammar thing. The library-protest thing."
"Now she never goes anywhere, Boo. Now she's got the Headmaster's House and her office and the tunnel in between, and never leaves the grounds. She's a worse workaholic than she ever was. And more obsessive-compulsive. When's the last time you saw a dust-mote in that house?"
"Now she's just an agoraphobic workaholic and obsessive-compulsive. This strikes you as happification?"
"Her eyes are better. They don't seem as sunk in. They look better. She laughs at C.T way more than she laughed at Himself. She laughs from lower down inside. She laughs more. Her jokes she tells are better ones than yours, even, now, a lot of the time."
"How come she never got sad?"
"She did get sad, Booboo. She got sad in her way instead of yours and mine. She got sad, I'm pretty sure."
"You remember how he staff lowered the flag to half-mast out front by the portcullis here after it happened? Do you remember that? And it goes to half-mast every year at Convocation? Remember the flag, Boo?"
"Don't cry, Booboo. Remember the flag only halfway up the pole? Booboo, there are two ways to lower a flag to half-mast. Are you listening? Because no shit I really have to sleep here in a second. So listen - one way to lower the flag to half mast is just to lower the flag. There's another way though. You can also just raise the pole. You can raise the pole to like twice its original height. You get me? You understand what I mean, Mario?"
'She's plenty sad, I bet.