IF MY BOOK: The Lonely Witness, William Boyle

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week William Boyle writes about his latest novel, The Lonely Witness, out now from Pegasus Crime.

The Lonely Witness, William Boyle IF MY BOOK Monkeybicycle

If The Lonely Witness were a car, it’d be a twenty-year-old Honda Civic with a busted windshield and a tape deck that miraculously still works. The hood latch would be broken and the trunk wouldn’t open and the doors wouldn’t lock. The rearview mirror would be falling off, held in place with stringy blue duct tape. There’d be a piece of Palm Sunday palm wrapped around the emergency brake that the driver’s mother sent long ago.

If The Lonely Witness were a trip to the ballpark, it’d be a night game and the traffic getting there would put you on edge and parking would be a bitch and your team would lose 16-2 and the drunk guy next to you in the bleachers would spill his beer in your lap and someone in the front row would puke over the outfield wall onto the warning track.

If The Lonely Witness were a day, it’d be Sunday with its holes in the attic and its dead flowers and its overripe bananas on the counter.

If The Lonely Witness were a map, it’d be crumpled up in a forgotten glovebox somewhere, its edges torn and tattered, the paper yellowed, all the lines faded.

If The Lonely Witness were a regret, it’d be the kind that smells like holy water and sadness.

If The Lonely Witness were a song, it’d be something you hear on a jukebox in a crowded dive bar, something you recognize and like but can’t quite place and when you go over to see what it is, there’s no way of knowing and no one to help you remember because no one else was really listening and you worry that you’ll never find that song again and it just lives inside of you, a little rumble of memory, this disappointed feeling of something that you almost had the chance to love lingering forever.

If The Lonely Witness were a movie musical, there’d be a twenty-five-minute number in the middle where the streets were bathed with blood and everything was about shadows and light and a train was jolting by overhead.

If The Lonely Witness were a wet rag on a clothesline, it’d be the kind that’s got holes in it and some edged-in darkness that can’t be washed away and you’d be ashamed to have it hanging in your yard but also somehow very proud.

If The Lonely Witness were an actor, it’d be Edie Falco.

If The Lonely Witness were a film made in 1953, it’d be directed by Ida Lupino and there’d be some amazing crane shots.

If The Lonely Witness were an outfit that your grandmother would wear, it’d be an old green sweater with holes in the sleeves and a white Atlantic City T-shirt with a slot machine showing 7s and plain black slacks covered in lint.


William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, Gravesend, was published as #1,000 in the Rivages/Noir collection in France, where it was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Boyle is also the author of a book of short stories, Death Don’t Have No Mercy. His newest novel is The Lonely Witness, out now from Pegasus Crime. Gravesend will be reissued, also by Pegasus Crime, in September 2018. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi. Find out more at williammichaelboyle.com or follow him on Twitter at @wmboyle4.