Pete Wentz’s new novel “Gray” arrives in bookstores on Tuesday (February 19), nearly seven years after it was first mentioned by the author himself. Over that time, it was nearly retired, then resuscitated — with the help of MTV News senior editor James Montgomery — and finally reborn … as a decidedly dark rumination on life beneath the spotlight and the loss of innocence that comes with it.
It’s an unflinching look behind the curtain, one that details the constraints of fame that pushed Wentz — and his band, Fall Out Boy — to the brink. Writing it was a journey … and we’re not just talking about the time the book spent in development. But now, with his band back together and his life back on track, Wentz has brought “Gray” to his fans … and, now, MTV Books is proud to present an exclusive excerpt of the novel.
Here’s a peek inside the pages of “Gray,” triumphantly — and finally — in stores today. Wentz will be promoting the novel (and signing copies for fans) on his book tour.
“The bus crawls into Dallas, but it doesn’t matter. All the skylines look the same now. It’s raining again, because the rain clouds follow me wherever I go. As usual, I don’t have an umbrella. Life. I am not prepared for any of this.
Yawn. Squint. Dark glasses. I hate the way the sky looks at me, as if it knows everything I’ve been up to. I sit up in my bunk, in my underwear and sunglasses, listen to the motor hum and the miles whistle away beneath my feet.
I imagine the bottom of the bus falling away, me hitting the ground running, burning north up 35, cutting east on 44 at Oklahoma City, rocketing across great distances, jumping onto 55 in St. Louis, just a blur now, a bottle rocket headed north, past Springfield, Peoria, Lexington, Chenoa, Pontiac; then Chicago looming large on the horizon, me headed right for the heart of it, now supersonic, Kedzie Ave, Ashland Ave, Chinatown flashing by, digging my heels into the asphalt, making sparks fly, skidding to a stop on Lake Shore Drive, standing there
in my underwear and sunglasses, my heels cooling in the morning light. Maybe a scarf wrapped around my neck for warmth. Oh, what would they say about me then?
I laugh about this to myself. I am f—ing crazy.
Anywhere, Texas. Everywhere, USA. I feel the same regardless. I am homesick all the time. I didn’t sign up for this. It used to be simpler–you know far–far, but never too far from home, from Her. Now, everything is bigger. Stranger. We have money, but we don’t ever need it. We don’t pay covers. We don’t stand in lines. We sleep through the days. I mostly think of vampires, which isn’t quite the same, but they are the closest I can come. They gotta know something about the way we don’t go to sleep until the sun comes up. Or maybe something about the marks I’ve got on my neck.
“What the f— are you doing?” asks the Disaster who is inexplicably awake (or, more accurately, hasn’t yet gone to sleep). He’s staring at me as if I were covered in blood or something, and I don’t understand why, until I remember that I’m sitting in my underwear, legs dangling out from my bunk, with a pair of $300 sunglasses on my face.
“I couldn’t sleep,” I say, which is a pretty good explanation for all of my peculiarities. “What the f— are you doing?”
“I didn’t sleep,” the Disaster enthuses (our lives have become so predictable). “I partied the whole way here. Everyone else is passed out. Let’s go eat.”
We call him the Disaster for all the reasons you’d expect. He’s always looking for something to ruin. He is a man of few words . . . a man of action. He has no feelings of remorse, no regrets. He is everything I am not. He’s pretty much my hero.
In the rare instances when the Disaster sleeps, he does it less than three feet away from me on the tour bus. He’s always beating off, and he doesn’t make any attempts to hide it, mostly because he doesn’t care enough to. Right now, he’s standing between the rows of bunks, swaying a bit as the bus pumps its brakes (or because he’s kind of wasted). He’s got on boxer shorts and a shirt that says cowgirls ride better bareback. I know he put it on just because we’re in Dallas. Those are the kinds of things he thinks about. It’s enough to make me laugh because I know later on tonight, after the show, he’ll still be wearing it, and he’ll use it as a pickup line.
The bus pulls in behind some arena named after an airline. It’s ten in the morning, but already, kids are milling about, some playing it cool, barely looking up from their phones, some losing their minds. There’s never an in-between with them (our lives have become so predictable), it’s full throttle or nothing at all. I watch them through the tinted window of the bus, feeling guilty. Sometimes I feel like the f—ing pied piper, only I’m leading them down a vermin hole. I never meant to be like this.
The Disaster looks at them too, only he’s a talent scout. He spies a couple of prospects (“Tremendous upside potential” is how he puts it), spits, and heads to the bathroom. When he returns, he’s got his skinny jeans tucked into a pair of cowboy boots. They’re made of rattlesnakes. Of course they are. He looks at me for approval, and I crack a smile. I pull on jeans and a hoodie–my uniform–and we make our way to the front of the bus. Out into the spotlight. Showtime.
Of course, it’s never that simple, so we have to wait for our road manager to guide us from the bus to a waiting car. It’s something like ninety feet, so, naturally, there’s no way we could do it alone. This is a voyage fraught with peril, after all. The convoy is assembled in the front lounge of the bus–someone has poured a beer on the Xbox, I note–and we head out, swinging the bus door open with a shudder. The girls start screaming, jumping up and down as if something were inside them that their bodies just can’t contain. They call my name over and over (the world is on a first-name basis with me).”
Did you pick up a copy of Pete Wentz’s “Gray?” Let us know in the comments below!