Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-2

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Prologue: On Familiar Terms

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pp. 3-22

n., descriptive, usually with direct objects. At the turn of the twentieth century, Hattie Little married a quiet, polite, hard- working Yankee who’d come south to find work, which he did, as a sawyer for a lumber mill, and also found her, a small woman with waist- length auburn...

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Story Hour

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pp. 23-43

When Larry’s first wife left him, he wept a bit and went to bed but then he had to get back to work. Eventually he began to date, but he didn’t like playing the field. For about a year he had an affair with an older woman who owned an art gallery. That came to an end and he...

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Shooting Star

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pp. 44-64

When the baby was born, she would have fit in Roy’s baseball mitt. He hadn’t used that mitt since tenth grade; it needed oiling. It needed to be thrown away. In fact, he had thrown it away. But how could they throw their baby away? That was what the hospital said had to be...

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The Autobiography of My Mother(s)

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pp. 65-88

I’m no writer, so I’ll just stick to the facts. My mother is a writer, and she’s always twisting the facts, or blurring them, or screwing with them. I guess that’s Fact #1. Fact #2: She’s a great mom and I love her. Fact #3: My mom is also my great- aunt. I call her Nina now that I’m a grown up and have a daughter of my...

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On the Care and Handling of Infants and Small Children

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pp. 89-90

Children arrive on earth after a long voyage through space and time. They are greeted by light. The stage of development in which they arrive is the baby stage. The babies are at first dazed, then bedazzled, then dizzied as they are turned upside down and slapped into...

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The Only News that Matters

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pp. 91-105

Conrad looked up from his desk in the medical library to see Palmer Wright headed his way. He pulled up a chair and Palmer dropped into it as if he could not stand up for another second. As if the chair brought him not only physical but emotional support. Beneath the dim fluorescent lighting— years ago the university...

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The Dead Brother

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pp. 106-108

Nina’s brother has now been dead for over a quarter of a century but he still takes up space in her mind. She deliberately thinks of him as her dead brother in an attempt to remind herself that the ghost in her mind is not the real guy. She figures the real guy was probably...

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Faith, Hope, and Clarity

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pp. 109-125

For much of her life Nina Bryant believed that kindness is the primary consideration in almost everything. That kindness is the First Law. That kindness could save the world from itself. “O Love, O Charite!” wrote Geoffrey Chaucer. Loving- kindness, according to the Talmud. For Nina, being kind was the first step toward...

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Palmer’s Method of Penmanship

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pp. 126-148

Palmer drained his Scotch in a single gulp. He followed that with another, and then a third. His drinking was deliberate and intentional: he was doing what was necessary to get drunk. Maybe other husbands wouldn’t have to get drunk before they could write a eulogy to their wife. Not he. This was not an operation he could...

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Epilogue: All the Little Dogs

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pp. 149-160

She was sorry not to be able to devote her attention to them but her family would have to understand that she was busy. Her brain had become a staging area for sentences that sped off one after the other, breaking the sound barrier. Only later, after a sentence had left, did...

About the Author

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