Cover

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Title, Copyright Page

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Contents

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p. vii

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Ground Rules

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pp. 1-6

Lewis Houser and his thirteen-year-old son Nathan were hiding behind a toolshed in the unlucky state of Missouri. They had been like that for over an hour—waiting— ready to salvage their lives and take what was...

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A Brief History of Male Nudes in America

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pp. 7-17

They step from behind my mother's shower curtain, pose like acrobats and soldiers, they lie bound in the afternoon light of our downstairs bedroom. There are buttons on the floor. Someone's wallet on the dresser. On the back of...

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Evolution of Words

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pp. 18-20

I tried to see the city as he must have seen it—a miracle of light, the rain-wet streets opening from Battery to Sansome and finally down to Grant. Judd hadn't slept in four nights, and so, when he left his parents' house on the fifth...

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A Map of Kansas

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pp. 21-32

Early on a June morning my relatives come driving in from places small and windswept, places with the names of lost souls: Netawaka, Leavenworth, Skiddy, Sabetha. Those who live in the Far West—Liberal or Scott County—...

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Chocolate

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pp. 33-35

I remember a birthday when there was hardly anything for me—a pair of blue mittens wrapped in a Husted's Dry Cleaning sack, brown twine tied in a lopsided bow around it all. With her eyebrow pencil, Libby, my mother, had...

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Paperweight

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pp. 36-46

If it weren't for my body, I could fly, I could go anywhere, I could be anything. I learned this fact long ago, and yes, there was regret and suffering from it, there were nights I cried, there were whole summers spent in an upstairs bedroom...

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In the Shadows of Upshot-Knothole

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pp. 47-63

My mother and I ran away only one time, on a sunny May morning when the world was about to end. She didn't know where we were running to, but my mother Lorraine was smart and she would have figured something out, a place for us...

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Nature's Way

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pp. 64-66

Close to midnight, they finally broke the lock and convinced her to get out of the bathtub, that she needed to see a doctor. She was Navajo and had been sitting in the steaming water for hours. She'd miscarried and all that stuff was...

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Dixon

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pp. 67-79

First, it is not true that my brother Dixon went crazy in Vietnam—chewed his fingernails completely off and gutted a Huey helicopter in a rage when his R and R was suddenly bagged. Hell, Dixon never was in Vietnam. His three years in the Air Force were...

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Simple Yellow Cloth

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pp. 80-83

My eyes open and quickly the water of my sleep clears. It's Thursday night. At first I'm angry because it's past one and I have to go to work the next day. Daria is out there in the hallway and she's humming something that I can't name...

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Wintercourse

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pp. 84-98

Lorna came to us in the first big snow at the end of November, flushed up as strays often are in the sudden cold. Dogs, cats—anything old, nearsighted, or temporarily lame. They look for a garage or a warm light or even a fleece-lined...

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Nocturne

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pp. 99-105

It was a Tuesday night when Maize and I ran out of money in Santa Fe—a place dusty and old and, if you aren't careful, the last place you might visit. We knew that we didn't have much cash left, but it was a surprise anyway to dig to the...

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The Uses of Memory

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pp. 106-119

Netta Cartwright believes these are the things that will bring her husband Franklin back from the dead: thick Velveeta sandwiches, fresh air, plenty of talk and music. She throws the windows open, though it is October in Boise and the...

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Exactly Where I Am

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pp. 120-123

I don't know where I am—on the porch, at the screen door, standing on the backyard walkway—but 1 know that I'm there when Daddy and Uncle Gill find RayAnn's fingers in the grass. Where I am standing seems less important than the way...

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Frog Boy

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pp. 124-137

Rocky Davis is all hands and eyes. Big hands—state of Texas hands. Shoulders broad enough to suggest his first good sport coat. He is already wearing size 10 men's shoes, and since last Thursday, Rocky has been on fire. It started as a...