Cover

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Editorial series, Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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p. ix

Acknowledgments

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p. xi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

Readers have a right to know what kind of book they are up against, in a general way. That can be taken care of with a cover design (guns, flames, half-dressed women) and a phrase ("Saga of Doom and Desire," "Epic of Passion"), or a title so formidable that no one could mistake its drift...

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The Winged Worm

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pp. 10-17

In the late spring of 1942 I slouched before the sporting goods counter of the general store in New Meadows, Idaho. I was an acolyte in a posture of dreamy, informal worship. Stories had converted me—the stories my father and uncles traded around the kitchen stove...

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The Beautician & the One-Legged Man

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pp. 18-48

Weekends the sawmill shut down, and only chuffed an occasional white plume into the blue air to show the boiler was still alive. So Saturday morning, when I got up early to drive Aunt Lucille to the post office, the town was quiet, only a few farm pickups...

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The Neardeath of Aunt Nellie

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pp. 49-58

Jess didn't meet the plane, so I sweltered at bus stops in the Tucson sun. Eventually (wondering if she died as I crawled through Saturday traffic), I got to the hospital, to the white bed. Her features, under rudely chopped gray hair, had withered. Her flesh appeared to have sunk inward...

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The Legend of Great Uncle Jim & the Woman Behind It All

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pp. 59-80

The lady in rhinestone glasses at the Winner's Inn wasn't just sure how you got to Tuscarora. She knew it was eighty miles from downtown Winnemucca, and believed there was pavement as far as Golconda, but after that it was all back roads, and likely...

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Letter to a Nebraska Housewife

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pp. 81-89

Dear Lady,
In one of your bad dreams, a motorcycle rackets down the country road, and, before you have time to think, to grab your robe and flick on the bedlamp and call out, the engine coughs and dies; you hear the cicadas stop short and a shadow, darker than the darkness, appears at the open bedroom window and then passes swiftly...

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Father White Mouse

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pp. 90-108

The Americans who still hunt wild game for daily food live in two very different regions. One group, the northerners, inhabits ice-bound coasts and survives mostly on fish, blubber and reindeer. The other group roams tropical and semitropical forestland, where...

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Sourdoughs, Filibusters, & a One-Eared Mule

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pp. 109-174

They were called sourdoughs presumably because they once baked their own bread and biscuits in the rough camps of the Yukon. Thirty years ago, in their last days, those who escaped the nursing home probably survived on Campbell's soup and potato chips...

List of Illustrations

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pp. 175-175