Blog Tour: Butter by Erin Lange: Chapter Extract and Giveaway

I’m very pleased to invite Erin on my blog today to present to you the first chapter in the disturbing Contemporary YA, Butter.  My review for Butter can be found here and even better is I have three (YES THREE) copies of Butter to giveaway to you from the lovely folks at Faber and Faber!  All you have to do is enter here and you MUST live in the UK or Ireland.

Chapter 1
You think I eat a lot now? That’s nothing. Tune
in December 31st, when I will stream a live web-
cast of my last meal. Death row inmates get one.
Why shouldn’t I? I can’t take another year in this
fat suit, but I can end this year with a bang. If you
can stomach it, you’re invited to watch . . . as I eat
myself to death.
– Butter
Most people would say the website is where this wild
ride began. But for me it started two days earlier, on a
Tuesday night in front of the TV in my living room.
I was watching the news, because that’s what my mom
had on when she got up to make dinner, and she left
the remote all the way across the room on the enter-
tainment centre, right next to the TV.
Why do people do that – put the remote by the TV?
What’s the point? She probably did it to force me to
get up and get some exercise, as if a couple steps across
the room would make any difference.
Anyway, there was this story on the news about air-
lines charging obese people for two aeroplane seats.
Look, I get it. It sucks to be next to the fat guy
on the plane. Maybe he’s taking up too much of your
armrest or crowding you into the window, but trust
me, nobody’s more uncomfortable than that guy, hav-
ing to squish into that tiny seat and knowing nobody
wants to sit next to him. The humiliation is payment
enough, let alone an extra charge.
This chick with one of the airlines was in the story,
saying the double billing would start January 1 and
trying to play it off like it was for the benefit of
the big people, like they’d be more comfortable with
two seats and it was only fair to charge them. Well,
I call bullshit on that, lady. I knew there was nothing
– including cramming my ass into one of those itty-
bitty lame excuses for an airline seat – nothing worse
than being the guy taking up two seats so everyone
on the plane sees you and thinks, ‘Oh! So that’s how
big you have to be to pay double.’ No thanks.
I was getting riled up watching the story, when I
looked down and remembered two airline seats were
the least of my worries. Right then, I was taking up two
cushions on the couch.
My eyes slid from the cushions to the coffee table.
An empty candy dish with crumbles of peanut M&Ms, a half-melted tub of ice cream, and a bag of Doritos
were just a few of the spoils before me.
A single Dorito was balanced precariously on the
edge of the bag. I rescued it before it fell out and trans-
ferred it to my mouth. The flavours exploded over
my tongue – salty, sweet, spicy – everything I liked all
rolled into one. God, I love Doritos. As an added bonus,
the crunch filled my ears, drowning out the sound of
the hated story. But as soon as I swallowed, I heard the
final line, delivered by some traveller at the airport – a
girl so anorexic thin and bleach blonde, she could have
easily been one of my classmates at Scottsdale High.
‘Yeah, I think it’s fair!’ She popped her gum. ‘Why
should the rest of us have to share the seats we paid for
with people who can’t lay off the snacks before dinner?’
I froze with a meatball sub halfway to my mouth.
Damn! Can’t a guy enjoy a little sandwich in his own living
room without feeling like he’s being judged? But it was
too late to be defensive. Suddenly that sub didn’t look
good at all, and the smell of it made me sick. In fact,
everything in front of me instantly looked revolting. I
hated every brightly coloured candy, every salt-coated
I quickly scooped it all off the table and picked up
the titbits that had slipped between the sofa cushions.
I’d experienced this before, these waves of resolve.
They never lasted and usually ended in an epic binge.
But when they came on, they came on powerful, and I
was convinced I’d never eat another bite.
I padded out to the kitchen with my armload of
snacks and dropped everything in the trash without a
word to my mother, who had her back to me, hum-
ming away at the stove. Then I headed to my room to
wrap my lips around the only thing that tasted good
during one of these episodes – my saxophone.
I lost myself in a melody for about twenty minutes be-
fore I got winded. Sometimes just standing too long
wore me out, and the way I moved when I played was
more exercise than my body could handle these days.
‘That’s beautiful, baby.’
My mom was in the doorway, leaning against the
frame with that dreamy expression she always gets
when I blow. I stopped abruptly and lowered the sax to
punish her for sneaking up on me, something I’d told
her repeatedly to knock off.
‘What is that tune? Is that something new?’
‘No, Ma, it’s “Parker’s Mood”. You’ve heard me play
it a hundred times.’
‘Mmm. You do like your Charlie Parker.’
‘Yeah, I guess.’
‘Well, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just wanted to
tell you dinner’s in about ten minutes.’
‘I’m not hungry.’
Mom’s mouth twitched in a sad smile, but she didn’t
say anything. Somewhere around the time I turned
eleven, she’d stopped talking to me about food or ex-
ercise or anything to do with my weight. And the
bigger I grew, the more she pretended not to see it. I
used to think she was embarrassed by me, but I even-
tually figured she just felt guilty – like she was a bad
mother for letting me get so big.
‘Okay,’ she said. ‘We’ll start without you.’ She
moved to leave, then turned back with one hand on
the doorjamb and that sad smile still plastered on her
face. ‘Really, baby . . . just beautiful.’
I cringed. I hated it when she called me baby. I was
sixteen years old and a hell of a lot bigger than a baby.
But it was better than Butter, which is what all the kids
at school called me. I loathed that nickname, but at
least most of them had forgotten how I earned it.
I lifted the sax to my lips to start again, but the
movement made me feel tired, so I returned the in-
strument to its cradle. I didn’t need the practise
anyway. I was no child prodigy or anything, but I’d
picked up my first sax when I was eight years old and
hadn’t missed a single day playing it since. Pathetic.
Nothing better to do than sit at home alone playing
Of course, that wasn’t entirely the case. There was
one other nightly distraction.
I switched on my laptop and settled into the extra-
large armchair next to my bed. I logged on to the
Internet under my handle ‘SaxMan’ and held my
breath, waiting to see if she was online.
She was. My friends list popped up on the right-
hand side of the screen – a few kids from fat camp, a
couple brass players I used to jam with . . . and Anna.
Perfect, sweet, sexy Anna.
I had stalked Anna online for months before I finally
got up the courage to send her a message. I contacted
her through one of the few social media sites that
didn’t demand photos, and of course, I didn’t tell her
who I was. Hey, I’m that guy with the specially built over-
size desk in the back of your composition class! Want to chat?
Yeah, right.
I told Anna I went to private school and that I
wholeheartedly agreed with her posts about the band
RatsKill being so over. She’d loved that. And now,
three months later, I was pretty sure Anna loved me.
Even now, it was like she’d been online just waiting
for me to show up. The second I signed on, a message
popped up from Anna.
Hey handsome! What are you up to?
I smiled. I loved that Anna didn’t use lame shorthand
or smiley faces to communicate. But my grin didn’t
last. ‘Handsome.’ Right. There was no way she could
know that. I’d certainly never sent her a picture, and
I refused to send her a fake photo, because I just
couldn’t lie that blatantly to her. And truthfully, I
didn’t want her falling in love with some other guy’s
mug. She had asked me for a picture over and over
again, but I’d finally convinced her the mystery was
more romantic.
Hey beautiful. I just got done playing your song.
Okay, that wasn’t true, but even when I was playing
Charlie Parker, Anna’s song was always running
through the back of my mind. It was a careful, sultry
solo I’d come up with after an all-night Internet
session with Anna – the only song I’d ever written
myself. Anna was over the moon when I sent her a re-
cording of me playing it.
Aw! You know I fall asleep listening to that every
night, right?
My grin returned.

I know.

When am I going to hear you play it in person?
Anna was getting increasingly pushy about meeting up
‘in real life’, but that obviously wasn’t an option – not
yet, anyway. I just needed to lose some weight – okay,
a lot of weight – before I revealed my true identity.
Soon babe. Very soon.
God, I could not stop lying to her tonight. Soon?
Who was I kidding? When I first started chatting with
Anna, I had delusions of shedding enough pounds to
tell her who I was in just a matter of months. But Doc
Bean convinced me it would take years to get down to
a normal size. He was always preaching the value of
patience. Well, patience was something I didn’t have.
In fact, the news that I had years of hard work ahead of
me had sent me into a binge, and in the three months
since I’d been talking to Anna, I’d put on another nine
I stared at the laptop screen, waiting for Anna’s
response. I knew her silence meant she was pouting.
She wanted something more specific than ‘soon’. Oh
well, what did I have to lose? At this rate, I would 
never tell her who I was anyway. What’s one more lie to-
night? I placed my fingers on the keyboard.
New Year’s Eve.
Her response was almost instantaneous.

But that’s a month away!

It’ll be here sooner than you think.
I waited while she thought it over. Finally, she respon-
I guess a New Year’s meeting is pretty romantic.
I smiled at the thought, imagining the moment – lock-
ing eyes with Anna across the room of a crowded New
Year’s Eve party, approaching her with a bundle of two
dozen roses while a twelve-piece band begins to play
her song – a moment that would never happen.
An ache filled my chest, and I knew I had to end the
conversation before I told any more lies.
Okay babe, I just signed on to say hi. I gotta run.
I waited long enough to see her signature signoff –
Okay, sweet dreams!
– then closed the laptop. The ache in my chest
threatened to rise up as a lump in my throat and turn
into tears. I forced it down, trying to shove the knot
into my stomach. That’s when I realised I was hungry.
I tossed my laptop aside and headed down to dinner.
Like I said, the resolve never lasted. 


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