741 Chapters
  Title Author Publisher Format Buy Remix
Medium 9780253016881

Deanne Stovers

Edited by Michael Martone and Bryan Furu Break Away Book Club Edition ePub

Deanne Stovers

Wayne is a good man. I’m lucky to get him. People keep telling me those things, as if I need reminding. He took care of his troubled sister from the time he was nineteen years old, tracking her more than once to the houses where she was shooting up and taking her back home. Wayne’s youth was sacrificed on the altar of that girl. I should be grateful that a man like that wants to marry me now, when the skin under my eyes is showing lines and the legs that used to look slim and good in shorts now just look like stalks. I am grateful. But shouldn’t a man have wanted a little more out of his life? Shouldn’t a man have taken some time off from his mess of a sister once in a while, going out to the quarry with a few guns and friends who’ve been drinking? He took care of her to the day she died, and after. He was the one to wash her body for the funeral. People talked.

This is exactly why I need to wear a white dress, even if white makes me look little and washed out. Mama said I could pass for a used cotton ball. She thinks I should have a pink wedding gown. She thinks I look good in pink, which is true, but she forgets that white means something. I’m not talking about how I’ve had other boyfriends. Everybody in town knows that. White means respect for the tradition, and I’m trying to get this right.

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Medium 9781574412406

14. The Last Dead Boyfriend

Aimee La Brie University of North Texas Press PDF

138

WONDERFUL GIRL

because I know he is not real, I know it, but here he is in the same white T-shirt and khaki pants he wore in life, though in death, they buried him in a shiny suit he would’ve hated because it was not made from one-hundred percent cotton.

There’s another complication—a four-month-old problem in my uterus, a DNA conglomeration of me and him, half AntiChrist (Nicholas), half idiot (me). I can’t decipher if Nicholas knows of it, or the appointment I have for what I consider the exorcism, like the fetus is a spirit that has taken up space in my body and must simply be asked to vacate the womb. A doctor on lower Wacker Avenue has agreed to suction it out. I plan on requesting a high dose of laughing gas. It hasn’t moved yet, so I prefer to think of it as something that will disappear in the night without leaving a forwarding address.

Nicholas wants me to go away with him. “What are you doing here with these sickos?” We watch two kids across the street blowing bubbles on their front lawn. The bubbles shimmer like small, translucent heads. They pop in mid-air, sending soapy kisses into the grass.

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Medium 9781574413311

A Bright Soothing Noise

Peter Brown University of North Texas Press PDF

A Bright Soothing Noise

P

arked at the scenic vista, Smithy watched the fuel truck through his binoculars. The operator went back and forth as if in slow motion between the gauges and the couplings at the far end of the hose. Smithy put the binoculars down on his passenger seat and lit a cigarette. He sat for a while, staring absently until the long gleaming tanker pulled away, moving east down the canyon. He watched as Mayor Goode drove in to top off his new Power Wagon. Goode got down and no doubt set the nozzle on the slow notch. He circled his truck and kicked the brand-new radials. With a finger he probed for nicks in the paint.

He took the squeegee and wiped it with a rag and with an almost effeminate precision pushed it across and through the round corners of the windshield. He set the squeegee back and beamed for a moment through his sunglasses at the mountains mirrored in them like diamonds. Then he released the nozzle, slapped his gas cap on, and disappeared inside the MiniMart.

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Medium 9781574413199

Chapter Three

Geoff Schmidt University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Three

H

e lies with the girl in the dim light just after dawn. It is a single bed. She lies on her right side, facing the wall, away from him. He lies on his right side too, as close to her as he can get without touching. He reaches out and caresses her left shoulder with the fingertips of his left hand. Outside, it has been snowing for an hour, though neither of them is aware of this. Later, dressed in jeans and boots and hooded sweatshirt and bluejean jacket, he will walk home through the snow falling fast, the empty roads filling with snow, the trees bending with snow, snow in his eyelashes. Far away he will hear the rumble of a plow. He will see one car fishtailing through an intersection. Church bells across town will begin to ring.

She draws closer to the wall. I just don’t see a future for us, she says. I just can’t see that.

He draws his fingers away. He had seen it. He had seen a thousand. Now he can see the thousand ways it won’t be. Outside, with a sudden crack, a branch gives up its burden. The room fills up with a snowy light.

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Medium 9780253019028

From That Stranded Place

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Taiye Selasi with Aaron Bady. Photo by Mike McGraw at The Daily Texan. ©2014

a conversation with Taiye Selasi

TAIYE SELASIS REPUTATION precedes her. Before she published her first novel in 2013, the celebrated Ghana Must Go, she was already well-known as the author of “Bye Bye Babar,” a very small essay that asked a big question, “What is an Afropolitan?” The answer, she wrote, was a young and beautiful generation of international Africans like her. “We are Afropolitans,” she wrote, “not citizens but Africans of the world.” In the decade since then, the term has become strangely polarizing, almost notorious. On the one hand, it’s been taken up as banner for Brand Africa in the twenty-first century; there’s a magazine called Afropolitan and you can buy “handmade and designer accessories such as jewelry, bags and shoes” from The Afropolitan Shop. But as the term has been commodified (quite literally), there has been a backlash, not only against Taiye Selasi and the idea of the Afropolitan, but against the bourgeois aesthetic that many have taken them to represent, a twenty-first-century black Atlantic that many have taken to be at odds with more explicitly politicized versions of African diasporic culture. Binyavanga Wainaina, for example, made waves at the 2013 UK African Studies Association by declaring, in his keynote address, that “I am a Pan-Africanist, not an Afropolitan.”

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Medium 9780253012098

22

S. A. An-sky Indiana University Press ePub

WHEN MIRKIN RETURNED home, his landlady met him at the door; she was a plump countrywoman with the lively, suntanned face of a market vendor. She growled at him hoarsely and angrily, “Some old hag was here looking for you!”

“Who was it?”

“Some old Jewess,” explained the landlady. “Twice she came. . . .”

“Probably the shoemaker’s wife,” Mirkin thought, recalling that he still owed him fifty kopecks.

After heating up the samovar, he ate some bread with his tea, which usually composed his dinner. Before he’d finished it, an elderly Jewess, hunched and miserable, wrapped in a large shawl, entered his room. She opened the door hesitantly, crossed the threshold, and said in a dispirited voice, “Good morning, Mirkin. . . .”

Recognizing Geverman’s mother, Mirkin felt embarrassed, but immediately got control of himself and rose silently to greet her.

“I’ve come to you,” the woman said, her wandering gaze surveying the room, “to see if my Borekh is here. . . .”

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Medium 9780253012098

31

S. A. An-sky Indiana University Press ePub

THE COMRADES, DISCOURAGED and defeated, made their way back to the Ore Miklet.

Faevich had gone into the shop too early. . . . Kornblat began to explain their failure.

“We should’ve done it in a very different way,” Uler echoed. “We should’ve waited until her father had left. . . .”

“Well, it’s no use talking about what we should’ve or shouldn’t have done,” Faevich interrupted him. “Now we have to consider what to do next.”

“What will we do now? It’s all over!” Kornblat lamented.

“All that’s left is to recite the Kaddish d’Rabbanan,1 and that’s that!” Uler supported him. “Ah! What angers me most is the fact that the old buzzard’s now rejoicing!”

“What infuriates me is that as I left, I didn’t think of punching him in the chest!” Tsiporin added.

“If Sonya Beryasheva is in fact a serious person,” Mirkin suddenly inserted, “then she really doesn’t need this ‘betrothal’ at all. She can escape from her tormentors by an easier and more reliable means. . . . Why can’t she just run away from home?” he asked in a loud voice, looking around inquiringly at all his comrades.

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Medium 9781574412796

Chapter Thirteen

Jane Roberts Wood University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Thirteen

1

Miss W eems says Mr . Sa m W itherspoon w ill be coming to pick up Albert, the Boston bull. “Sam will be right for

Albert,” she says. “They’re both getting on in years. And Sam’s bound to be lonesome living in that big house all by himself without Martha.”

When Mr. Witherspoon arrives Mary Lou sees the match right away. Mr. Witherspoon plods stiffly along with his head down just like Albert. And they both have round brown eyes that bulge a little.

The three of them stand in the parlor looking down at Albert.

“Albert, you’ll like Mr. Witherspoon,” Miss Weems promises.

Albert looks up at Mr. Witherspoon, turns his back on him, and trots out of the room.

Miss Weems says, “He’s a little shy at first, but he’ll be just fine. Now Sam, Miss Barbara’s cousin has already paid the fees.

Albert’s had all his shots and, as far as we know, he’s healthy. But he’s mighty lonesome right now.”

Albert sticks his head back around the door. Mr. Witherspoon plods over, stoops, and pats his head. “Well, little feller, you reckon we can get along?”

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Medium 9780253220042

6. Scenes in a Roman Theater

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM TUNISIA

 

With a sigh, Hedi plunked himself down on a stone seat in the Roman theater. As the last of the afternoon’s tourists straggled off and disappeared among the ancient walls, he stared dully at the grand view of the ruins and the green hills of the Tunisian countryside beyond.

He hadn’t done very well today. Only one hat sold. His mother would be disappointed, and he wouldn’t blame her … having to make those hats every night after her day’s labor in the fields, weaving straw till her fingers were sore. Tomorrow he’d try harder. Midwinter break from school gave him a few days to earn money, and he couldn’t waste the chance.

It’d be so much better, Hedi often thought, if he could be a guide, more interesting and more money. Once in a while he did manage to latch on to a friendly couple and show them a few sights … the temple, the theater, the baths and marketplace—and best of all, the communal toilet where twelve people could sit at a time. That always got a laugh, and Hedi would get a few small coins. But that was all. A real guide had to be older and know a lot more.

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Medium 9781574412017

everything valuable and portable

Michael Hyde University of North Texas Press PDF

118

what are you afraid of ?

listened as Joan read to them, turning the pages. The book began with a brief biography of the Virgin Mary and ended, on page thirty-four, with that of St. Boniface. Each page was devoted to an individual saint, some the children already knew of and others with histories more obscure. Each saint’s description was accompanied by a picture, drawn large and painted in brilliant colors.

After each morning’s reading, the children decided which saint they’d choose to play that day.

All the children wanted to be St. Dorothy of Montau, a peasant who’d given birth to nine children and was the patron saint of young brides, difficult marriages, widows, those who’d lost infants to death. She prayed with her arms spread wide, in imitation of

Christ on the cross, and died when her heart burst, unable to contain all of God’s wondrous love. The accompanying artwork depicted St. Dorothy as a young, beautiful woman with golden hair. At the center of her green tunic was a red heart, from which streamed light, stars, and small swirls of rainbows, beaming out all around her. Joan and William argued over who got to be St.

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Medium 9780253016881

Cleaning Lady to the Stars

Edited by Michael Martone and Bryan Furu Break Away Book Club Edition ePub

Cleaning Lady to the Stars

Call me Isobelle—at least, that’s what my card says. I’d like it better if you call me the cleaning lady to the stars, a.k.a. the professors at St. Meinhof’s. They move in here trailing a van full of kitchen gear they don’t know how to use, wearing their attitudes like tiaras. One of them got the card made up for me ’cause she thought it was cute. I thought it was embarrassing, but she was right about one thing: you got to have a business card if you want to scrub professors’ toilets. They check references, too.

“How you like the Midwest?” I ask the new customers, first time I show up with a mop.

“You mean the Midwaste?” They ask me where you go to eat around here. You go to your well-stocked kitchen, is what I’m thinking, but I point them to Albert’s Seafood Lounge, and it’s not entirely my fault if they swallow a little botulism with their sushi. We didn’t have sushi till Albert thought to bring it in and (in case you hadn’t noticed how far we are from the ocean) we survived without it.

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Medium 9781574413311

SINCE IT’S YOU

Peter Brown University of North Texas Press ePub

Since It’s You

I might have married Charlemagne, if he weren’t so black. If he weren’t as old as my own dead father would have been. I’d been waiting tables at the Circle Hill seven days a week for two years already—at twenty-three it was my whole life—and I had depended too much on him. He had more authority than anyone I knew, and I relied more on him for some things than anyone else, like the way he wrapped himself in a big white apron after he fired up his grill in the morning and never took it off till quitting time. This way we all knew that when the apron came off, it was time to lock up. We all were careful to respect the manager, a nervous college kid named Raymond, but Charlemagne knew when it was time. When that apron came off, nothing Raymond nor any of the others said mattered: the kitchen and diningroom were clean and it was time to go.

He was a head taller than Raymond, two heads taller than me. He was as slender as a shortstop but not so limber anymore— sometimes on Sunday mornings when he came in, the kitchen was cold and he limped about in his apron till he warmed up. He kept to himself that first hour in a manner I never understood. I watched him as I came and went from the diningroom, how he ignored us as the grill heated up; he stared at the headlines for a long time before he licked his thumb and began moving his fingers through his newspapers. Sometimes a queasy desire arose in me, from somewhere near my stomach—sometimes his hands and head seemed all wrong to me, all a touch too big for his slender frame, and for that I wanted him and despised him too, because I wanted him perfect. His hair was pure white around his ears, almost fake in its beauty, since the rest of his hair was like his skin, blacker than the night behind the stars.

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Medium 9781574416237

A Serious Question

Matt Cashion University of North Texas Press ePub

Charlotte Blanchard rushed to her ringing phone carrying the last bag of kitty poop she ever intended to carry (having returned her two cats to the shelter that very morning) and held the poop beside her while she listened to her dying friend, Brother Michael, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish (Milton, Ga.), apologize for disturbing her on such a beautiful Saturday morning. Her “hello” must have sounded short-winded and resentful because he got to the point straightaway: he wondered whether she might spare some time to grant him a final favor.

Her thoughts chased themselves like this: (1) How much time, exactly (2) selfish bitch (3) my actions will be rewarded (4) previous thought = selfishness (5) everything in this short life, save pending death, is petty (6) don't plop kitty-poop on table (7) the all-seeing eyes of the Almighty are watching how I treat His dying servant (8) a goddamned flea from Brother Michael's mutt is biting my ankle (9) it's the duty of the living to console the sick and dying (10) I'm pleased he thought enough of me to be the one he chose to call (11) previous thought = vanity (12) shouldn't it make me happy to help someone needing help (13) it will help the one needing help, which is more important. (14) Starting when, exactly?

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Medium 9780253223432

Chapter 17

Jim Cohee Indiana University Press ePub

Chapter 17

The man on the rock followed me down—keeping to his side of the Nandhour—and he brought with him some villagers. The world now seemed to shake with the villagers’ drums. In my brief sojourn in this stricken land, I had never heard such drumming. The leaves jumped and convulsed with the sound.

I should like you now to consider my situation in this difficult terrain. On a slope to my left, a slope of perhaps thirty-five degrees, the ears of the curious ghorals twitched above rock ledges. And as I looked up, I noticed a rectangle of dimming sky, calm cerulean blue framed by hell-horrid, black leaf-silhouettes, sharp as spears. Poets’ promises die there.

Night was settling in. The air was redolent of the ipsi­biadrindi flower. Fronds of giant ferns like malevolent hands reached over my shoulders. The narrow sand path I walked turned off to the right, turned back, then vanished behind a large slate rock which stood on the forest floor like an artillery shell. The silence of the woods, with its evil and malignant spirits, unnerved me, and the hair unexpectedly rose on the back of my neck as I approached the rock. A thin puff of air brushed my face. If the Chowgarh tiger were lying in wait, it would keep me downwind. So it was here! The tiger was about to ambush me! Unafraid of the drumming, the tiger must be lying on the sand path behind the rock!

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Medium 9780253019073

A for Ache

Colin Rafferty Break Away Book Club Edition ePub

I read once that an infant’s brain at birth is completely smooth, and only as the child begins to process information coming from outside does the brain form the kinks and bends that give it its familiar shape. The events of our lives, no matter how minute, leave a physical reminder upon our brains, a scar painlessly made. Is a headache, then, the result of our experiences rubbing against each other too much? The pounding of our temples not the product of stress or restricted blood flow, but of our memories crashing into each other?

Once formed, a scar is relatively painless in comparison with the rest of our bodies. Like the monument, it is the dead part of the living world. But if amputees can still feel phantom pains in missing arms and legs, then we must also be able to feel the lack of our bodies, the places where part of us has been removed, cut, punctured, violated, invaded.

When I was eleven years old, I was sick and didn’t know why. One morning I had swung my legs over the bed, and when the right one hit the ground, I screamed. Something hurt, deep in the bone.

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