Friday, April 27, 2012

William Gay- Charting the Territories of the Red

The opening of one of my favorite short stories.  How could you read this and not continue?
(From The Southern Review Spring 2001)

"WHEN THE WOMEN CAME BACK from the rest area, slinging their purses along and giggling, Dennis guessed that someone had flirted with them. He hoped they'd keep their mouths shut about it. He was almost certain that Sandy wouldn't say a word, but you never knew about Christy.

Well, we got flirted with, Christy said. She linked an arm through his and leaned against him, standing on his feet, looking up at him. The sun was moving through her auburn hair, and there were already tiny beads of perspiration below her eyes, on the brown, poreless skin of her forehead. She smelled like Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

Dennis unlaced his arm from hers and stepped back and wiped his wire-rimmed glasses on the tail of his shirt. He was wearing jeans and a denim shirt with the sleeves scissored out at the shoulders. He glanced at Wesley. He put the glasses back on and turned and looked at the river. Moving light flashed off it like a heliograph. I guess we need to get the boats in the water, he said.

Wesley had both of Sandy's hands in both of his own. Her hands were small and brown and clasped, so in Wesley's huge fists they looked amputated at the wrists. Who flirted with you? Wesley asked.

Sandy just grinned and shook her head. She had short dark hair, far shorter than Wesley's. Wesley was looking down into her sharp, attentive face. The best thing about her face was her eyes, which were large and bluegreen and darkly fringed with thick lashes. The best thing about her eyes was the way they focused on you when you were talking to her, as if she was listening intently and retaining every word. Dennis had always suspected that she did this because she was deaf. Perhaps she didn't even know she did it.

Sandy had once been beaten terribly, but studying her closely Dennis could see no sign of this now. Perhaps the slightest suggestion of aberration about the nose, a hesitant air that she was probably not even aware of. But her skin was clear and brown, the complex and delicate latticework of bones intact beneath it."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Single Shot- Matthew F. Jones

Enjoying this one, largely because of great descriptive passages like this one:

"The smell is of fertilizer, damp soil, and adolescent growth. The sporadic spark of fireflies intrudes on the darkness. A night, in his past life, for hand-holding, duet whistling, blanket love. John pulls the .45 from the glove box, checks to see that it's loaded, shoves it down the front of his pants, and steps from the truck. Beneath his feet the dirt is powdery and soft. From his left comes a rustling sound. He wheels that way and sees four sets of glistening eyes that, in less than a second, are gone. Raccoons. He hears them scurrying through the field... Standing fifty yards to the right of the cabin, concealed beneath a willow tree, he watches the dark house inhale the night air through its wide-open, sash-covered windows, and thinks how he doesn't really know Simon, and never did. A hard worker, hunter, drinker, with streaks affable, morose, and mean, he has, like John, few close friends."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Affliction- Russell Banks

"If he had taken himself out behind the barn one morning during his life with her and shot himself in the head, inflicted on himself in one awful blow all the violence he had battered us with during the years we lived with him, it still would not have released us, for our mother loved him, and so did we, and that awful blow would have been inflicted on us as well. His violence and wrath were our violence and wrath: there had been no way out of it."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Volt- Alan Heathcock

From "Lazarus"

"Sometimes," he tried again, "what's needed is just a good slap in the face.  Maybe if you want to slap someone you ought to.  Maybe it'd help as much as anything."

Martha sat forward.  "Vernon," she said, "we'd be slapping folks until our hands were raw."

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