“I am Trip Morgan, the would-be miracle who’s got something the matter with his eyes, and I am meant for greater things.”
A pickpocket who finds value in things others do not want, Trip Morgan keeps among his collection of treasured, stolen trinkets a photograph of a child who looks eerily like Nate Mackey, a down-and-out former Wall Street analyst Trip recently met and became involved with.
The photograph is part of a collection of stolen trinkets he’s amassed since he arrived in New York. He keeps it all close and works out a life he could have if he could ever let someone keep him long enough for him to build up a treasure trove of small wonders all his own.
Small Wonders is Courtney Lux’s debut novel of a Southern boy escaping his roots and unexpectedly finding hope in his future.
~ Pride Promotions
A note from the author:
Hi and thank you for having me! I am a Minnesotan-turned-New Yorker, and I am actually a part-time writer. I got my B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and I’m finishing an M.S. at New York University in Communication Sciences and Disorders, so I live a bit of a double life. While working my way through graduate school, through a series of a lot of late nights and days spent in coffee shops, I wrote my first novel, Small Wonders.
Small Wonders is the story of Trip Morgan, an individual who ran away to New York City from a hard home life in the south when he was only sixteen. Trip is living with an eclectic band of roommates and he makes a meager living working as a busker, and, at times, as a casual sex worker in order to keep surviving in the city. Trip entertains himself pickpocketing inconsequential items off people, but when he “accidentally” lifts a wallet off of Nate Mackey, a 26-year-old working in finance, he is struck by the uncanny resemblance of this man to a child in a photograph he found years before. Trip and Nate meet and form a sort of unconventional relationship and really work to navigate both themselves and one another.
Character interview (Trip Morgan)
An important note on interviewing Trip Morgan: Getting Trip to agree to answer these questions seriously or even sit down and participate would most likely require a lot of negotiating, a few dollars and a drink for while he did it. He still isn’t likely to provide the answers a person was hoping for.
What’s your job like?
I do this and that to make my money, but mostly I play guitar and sing. I get to make my own hours and pick where I do it, which is more than most people can say about their jobs, right? No health insurance or sick days or nothing like that, but that hasn’t bothered me much so far. Things can get a little rough when the weather gets bad since people aren’t big on stopping to listen and pay a park musician when they just want to get to where they’re going, but I can usually figure out some way to hustle to make a bit more cash.
Would you rather be respected or feared? Why?
I guess being respected would be a good thing, but I don’t really know if it’s better than being feared or not. I’ve been feared, which was okay I guess, but these days I think I’d be okay with just being accepted. You do you and I’ll do me and we won’t have a problem, ya know?
What’s your favorite book?
I’m no good at finishing books, but Nathaniel just keeps giving them to me, so I’m giving it my best shot to at least make it a few chapters into some of them. I liked Lord of the Flies okay, but it kind of freaked me out. I know I was a bad kid, but those guys were fucking insane.
If you could go anywhere, all expenses paid, where would you go?
I’ve never put much thought into traveling. Can I just have the money to pay my bills instead?
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I don’t like talking about me all that much—how about this: For $25.oo, I can chat you up a bit more, or we can work out a better way to get to know each other. If it makes it any easier, there are a few things I’m better at than conversation, but it’s your call, Sugar.
Some days this works. People take pity on a not-quite-twenty-something singing in the rain. Older women especially seem to take in the auburn hair stuck to his forehead and his relatively petite stature and read hungry young desperation in him. They offer him sympathetic smiles and a few soggy dollars.
Other times, playing in the rain has the opposite of his intended effect—strange boy with strange eyes playing his guitar as if he doesn’t know the rain is there. Those people see the darkness in him: a boy with a chip on his shoulder that makes them nervous. Those people give him wary looks and a wide berth. Trip’s not sure he blames them.
He’s a little put out and a lot cold, so he sells his umbrella for a few dollars before shouldering his guitar and closing the lid on his coffee can to set to work at his other favorite occupation.
He’d been a decent pickpocket in his younger years, but now, after a lot of practice, he’s a better thief and a good runner when he needs to be. Not that he steals anything of particular worth. He finds value in treasures scrounged from the bottoms of pockets.
Loose change, hair binders, halves of Vicodin, broken cigarettes, crumpled matchbooks. All of it has a purpose, a certain sense of importance. He envies women and their big purses. They’ve got whole bags of riches waiting to be exhumed. Though, more likely than not, those little trinkets will remain forgotten and neglected in the bottoms of Marc Jacobs clutches and Target sale hobo bags.
Other people don’t see it—the value in these things. Maybe that’s why he steals from them. Nothing they’d miss: a worn dollar here, a business card there. He keeps it all close and works out a life he could have if he could ever let someone keep him long enough for him to build up a treasure trove of small wonders all his own.
For now, he will live with worn shopping lists, broken crayons and ticket stubs he lifts off of others. He keeps them in a beaten-up bag that is more duct tape than canvas and lets them build up stardust. Then, in those lonely hours of the night, he scatters them across the floor and works them into constellations to which he assigns stories. Some he writes down; others, he forgets before the next day. It’s not a financially savvy task, but it’s his favorite, and it passes the time as well as anything else.
About the Author & Links:
Courtney Lux is a Minnesotan-turned-New Yorker whose love for the city is rivaled only by her love for wide, open spaces. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison and a soon-to-be graduate of New York University. When not playing writer, Courtney is an avid reader, constant dreamer, and lover of dogs, wine and being barefoot. Small Wonders is her first novel, and is the recipient of a Publishers Weekly starred review.