Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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1

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pp. 1-41

Before my uncle died his checks arrived in the mail the first Wednesday of every month. I don’t know why they arrived, but they arrived nonetheless, like a benediction.
The first check came in the mail when I was nineteen years old, and I had no idea then that more checks would come, but come they did with unfailing regularity until the final check, which arrived six months after he had passed away...

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2

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pp. 42-53

4:00 a.m.
I wake myself to write. I should be sleeping like the rest of the world, but I’m wide awake on my couch, drinking a can of Bud and watching the everlasting tube. If I were a dog, I’d be a mongrel mutt. I feel homeless, shiftless. It’s 4:00 a.m...

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3

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pp. 54-94

A few details. Where to begin? First of all—how we met. We met at a coffee shop, but let me tell you what happened a little before that. It was an utterly perfect day. I was still a student at the university. I remember it well. In fact, I was sitting in the quad reading J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories.

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4

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pp. 95-110

My father was fond of telling me that I didn’t have what it takes to get by in this world. Who knows? Perhaps he’s right. You’ll never amount to anything, he would say in disappointment. I was his third son, and as far back as I can remember, he thought I was a failure. He blamed it on my mother...

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5

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pp. 111-116

Besides these friends, my childhood was largely uneventful, save for the antagonism that daily grew between me and my brothers and father. The three of them formed an unbreakable triad cemented together by something akin to electromagnetic force...

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6

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pp. 117-124

My uncle’s checks came and went as did the days. One day flying into another and so many of those days spent drinking at the bar. And waiting. The door to the bar would fly open, and I’d turn my head to see who it was, who was coming in...

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7

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pp. 125-128

The change came a few weeks later when two notes arrived in the mail on the same day—the last Wednesday of the month. The first was in Claire’s handwriting, and the other was in a hand I did not know. I opened Claire’s first...