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The Fixed Stars

Thirty-Seven Emblems for the Perilous Season

Brian Conn

Publication Year: 2010

A fable-like tale of a small community afflicted by a mysterious plague
Juxtaposing barbarity and whimsy, Brian Conn’s The Fixed Stars is a novel that has the tenor of a contemporary fable with nearly the same dreamlike logic.
At the novel’s heart are the John’s Day celebration and the interactions of a small community dealing with a mystery disease. Routinely citizens are quarantined and then reintegrated into society in rituals marked by a haunting brutality. The infected and the healthy alike are quarantined. In a culture that has retreated from urbanism into a more pastoral society, the woman who nurtures spiders and the man who spins hemp exist alongside the mass acceptance of sexual promiscuity. Conn delivers a compelling portrait of a calamitous era, one tormented by pestilence, disease, violence, and post–late capitalism. An unflinching look at a world impossible to situate in time, The Fixed Stars is mythic and darkly magical.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Page

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pp. 1-1

Title Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 5-6

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1. The Ropemaker’s Daughter

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pp. 8-52

I am a humble servant of people. In this world we work together. You are a woman of fierce intelligence and I can see that you have been thoroughly educated; I need hardly explain to you why we people can survive only together and never apart. There can...

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2. Ablution in Helical Structure

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pp. 53-82

We required someone to guide the building of the bathhouse in silence. “Though perhaps this person might speak,” said the woman who grew nutritive moss, “if it be only in the way that other people speak.” The woman who brewed...

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3. The Green Door

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pp. 83-136

The man who bore crates was thinking of the meal in the spidersilk pouch that hung from the hook beside his head and swung with the sway of the wagon—thinking of it only obliquely and with strict casualness, so as not to exhaust it, it being the only thought available to him on this stretch of road—and meanwhile...

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4. John’s Day

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pp. 137-202

The young builder is there on John’s Day. He sees the sweet plum woman. He was uncertain whether to come. The sweet plum woman is wearing paper wings. Come, they all said. You are not a child. You are permitted to come. The builder moves from one community to another, and his difficulty is to know whether...

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5. The Snow Pageant

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pp. 203-284

The children took their history lesson in the field behind the crèche. In the late summer they drank afternoon milk and sat under the dead tree. Then the older children instructed the younger children. What kind of tree was it and how did it die? It...

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6. Mercury

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pp. 285-311

My hands are looking old. That happens whether or not you’ve done anything. It isn’t at all dark. There is a dazzle to the air. It is fall or will be. We haven’t enough daytime. It seems that we have but afterward we see that we haven’t. Then a dazzle masks......

E-ISBN-13: 9781573668163
E-ISBN-10: 1573668168
Print-ISBN-13: 9781573661539
Print-ISBN-10: 1573661538

Page Count: 311
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1st ed.

OCLC Number: 712992792
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Fixed Stars