Scott Dominic Carpenter, fiction writer

Theory of Remainders: The Album

"The road curved easily, wending through parcels of pasture and woods, passing over threads of creeks. Lanky Norman cows grazed in the pastures."


"An hour and a half later, after Rouen, he left the autoroute, preferring the back roads, many of the intersections marked with stone crosses."


"He swept along the edge of a broad forest, then looped north, traversing villages and hamlets, some no more than a cluster of shuttered houses. Every few kilometers a new community appeared, the church steeple rising above the trees, followed by rooftops."


"One woman gaped, her stone face frozen in the realization that all hope was lost. Souls stewed in a cauldron held in the maw of a gigantic beast. A young man roasted on a spit. Demons tormented men on the wheel or devoured them whole."


"The Palais de Justice of Rouen was a flamboyant medley of towers and arches, pinnacles and arcades, gargoyles and ornaments—a stone monster built with one clawed foot firmly planted in the late Middle Ages, a second just over the threshold of the early Renaissance, and a third in the realm of architectural miscellany, where curlicues, restorations and annexes grew like galls in the open wounds suffered by the edifice over the course of five centuries."


"Morin sighed: 'Unfortunately, there is no mountain at Le Mont de l’If. It’s nothing but a long hill.'”


"The road here was unlined, barely wider than the car itself, rising along the crest of a slope bordered first by grassy fields, then by dark woods. The further they drove, the deeper the road sank into the terrain, the shoulders rising three, four, then five feet high, the road cutting like a gash through the land. Woods crowded the passage on both sides and trees tipped inward like rafters."


"... his eyes fell upon the monument to the First World War, a mass of dark green metal streaked with black. Mounted on a massive stone pedestal it showed a soldier of vast proportions, a helmeted colossus striding forward, wrapped in a greatcoat, he eyes lifted to the sky. In his arms--and Philip couldn’t believe he’d never noticed this—the soldier cradled a small, limp body."


"Off to the left was Saint-Pierre, the oddly newfangled church, a giant cylinder of brick and glass, like a monstrous keg planted in the city center."


The cemetery: "The moonlight illuminated the sea of stone vessels, crosses listing to the right or left like the masts of sea-tossed ships."


The cemetery: "A life-sized maiden bearing a flag in one hand and an olive branch in the other stood as a lissome memorial for the war dead, her eyes cast downward in sorrow, her crown adorned with a five-pointed star, one of the many sensual horrors populating French cemeteries. What did she represent? The nation? Gratitude? The Angel of Death? All Philip knew for sure was that she’d gone to rust, with flakes of metal lifting off the rise of her breasts and the pleats of her robe."


Fécamp: "The road rose over the crest of a hill, revealing the vista of an actual downtown curled around the edge of a port. The ocean was gray-green and choppy, and the air carried a hint of salt."