What a Piece of Work I Am (A Confabulation)
by Eric Kraft, as Peter Leroy
Paperback Cover ..... Chapter 1
The Sultry Older Sister of My Imaginary Friend

WHEN I ARRIVED at Ariane’s house, she greeted me with a wet kiss, quite a kiss—lascivious, shameless, dizzying.  It was the very kiss that I had dreamed of when I was a boy, except for the fact that she tasted of scotch.
    “I used to dream of that kiss,” I said.  “Except for the scotch, that was exactly the kiss that I dreamed of when I was a boy.”
    “All the little boys dreamed of kisses from Tootsie Koochikov,” she said.  She took my coat.
    “I had forgotten that they called you that,” I said.
    “Had you?” she said.  “I hadn’t.”
    “Well,” I said, embarrassed, not certain how she wanted me to respond.
    She shrugged and handed me a glass with some of the same scotch she was drinking.  “I had an unusual name,” she said.  “It was a trial.  Kids made fun of it.  They made fun of me for having it.  Lodkochnikov—a preposterous name.  My little school chums found it impossibly hard to pronounce.”

BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T say “Lodkochnikov,” they crushed it into “Koochikov” and called her that instead.  It’s hard to blame them: “Koochikov” is fun to say, and each time they said it all the other little girls got the giggles.  Ariane didn’t find it particularly funny, but then, she wasn’t supposed to.
    The first time she heard herself called Koochikov, in the first grade, she thought that the little girls who said it, an adorable bunch, cute kids in mary janes and pinafores, with their hair in pigtails, were calling her to join them, so she bounded over, smiling and eager, and that made them break out all over in hysterical giggling, which made Ariane feel very amusing and popular and welcome for about three seconds before she realized that it had been a joke.  She pretended that she didn’t mind, pretended even to herself, because she didn’t want to spoil their fun.
    After that, she never quite heard them call her Koochikov.  She heard it whispered as she walked by, and she soon discovered the trick of pretending that she hadn’t heard it or had misheard it.  It might have been a sneeze.  It might have been Lodkochnikov.  Very early on she understood and appreciated the convenience of pretending that it was a sneeze or Lodkochnikov—pretending, when she turned and looked at the giggling girls, that she didn’t get the joke, didn’t even see that there was a joke, didn’t have the faintest idea that she was a joke.
    When it was unavoidable, when one of those odd silences fell and into it clattered, unmistakably, “Koochikov,” she stepped right in, eager to please, and made her second mistake about the name: from ignoring it she went to endorsing it.
    “Oh, I don’t care,” she said.  “I can hardly even say ‘Lodkochnikov’ myself.  Call me Koochikov.  Or anything.  Just don’t call me late to dinner.  That’s what my father says.”
    “Koochikov” was such a big success, and Ariane was such a good sport about it, that the little girls and boys gave her a new first name, too: “Tootsie.”  They had such fun with that, and she had such fun going along with it, that she hardly even noticed that she was collaborating with them in making herself into somebody they could really enjoy, that good sport, the easygoing Tootsie Koochikov.


Poignant, Dizzying
Karen Karbo, New York Times Book Review
Kraft Cooks Up Another Treat
Timothy Hunter, The Cleveland Plain Dealer


What a Piece of Work I Am is published in paperback by Picador USA, a division of St. Martin’s Press, at $11.00. 

You should be able to find What a Piece of Work I Amat your local bookstore, but you can also order it by phone from: 

Bookbound at 1-800-959-7323 
Book Call at 1-800-255-2665 (worldwide 1-203-966-5470) 
You can order it on the Web from Amazon.com Books

Libros en Español: What a Piece of Work I Am is also available in Spanish from Ediciones Destino

Paperback Cover
Copyright © 1994 by Eric Kraft

What Piece of Work I Am is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 

First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group. 

Now available in paperback from Picador USA, a division of St. Martin’s Press. 

[an error occurred while processing this directive]