Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-x

Contents

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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p. xiii

Thank you to Sam Chang and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for allowing me the time to write this book, to grow, and for all of the wonderful things you provided me, in head and heart. And to Deb, Jan, and Connie – thank you for all of your help and kindness. Thank...

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Disfigured Paper Animals

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pp. 1-17

I’m inserting the Magical Foam Organs into a Stuff-A-Bear groundhog when Eddie calls me over to a bin of miscellaneous carcasses and asks if I require a warm baseball mitt to play with my pud. He laughs and makes his hand do a jack-off motion with these long lanky fingers like...

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Elvis the Pelvis

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pp. 18-32

This morning my front maple is draped with toilet paper. Lyle clings to my leg, teething on his leash tethered to the upright piano. A lawn gnome hangs from a limb by something metal, bent like a noose. Maybe the local teenage gang S.I.V. did this? I recently saw those initials...

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Not All the Dominoes Having Yet Fallen

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pp. 33-53

The cornfield stretched along the road, and his brother disappeared into it. Dustin waited in the truck, yawning, fiddling with the radio, visualizing the final eighteen holes of the tournament, interjecting memories of work he and Shawn had once done for their father: varnishing...

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That Which Has No Fixed Order

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pp. 54-57

only me and Momma’s boyfriend Peat on the Peckinpaugh stage now, holding, holding, holding, that motherfucker him like a pecked scarecrow, me like a parade balloon leaking helium, cheeks puffed, soaked with sweat, all the disqualified contestants sitting with heads in their laps...

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Everything in Relation to Everything Else

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pp. 58-81

Television lights move over Sammy’s face in a way he can feel. Maybe this indicates emotional depth? Later, Delilah will tie his hands with scrunchies, ride him belligerent in her Honda, then drop him off. Sammy imagines the impending ache and bruises, turning his old high school...

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Tornadic

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pp. 82-96

After work I’d have a new message from Meg, telling me where she found them that morning. Backs of her knees, her armpits, the buttocks. Like dawn horizons breaking all over her. I wondered if the paper cuts were really paper cuts or that thing a woman does when she talks...

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Elbow

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pp. 97-101

Ian’s mother warned him about jumping on the mattress...

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Karst

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pp. 102-122

The wall alarm buzzes, which means another shipment of fatty epidermises has arrived, which means I get on the phone to Porcine, Bovine, and Marine and advise: Prep to intake. Then I’ll call down to Labs and advise...

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My Kind of Utmost Tender

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pp. 123-137

Each week at Pogz, me and Duane Duane attend a thematic Monday Midday Meeting. Beats me why we don’t utilize the MMM concepts. Duane Duane refuses to compromise his quote-unquote “creative intellect...

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Acutely Angled

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pp. 138-139

and I miss the tug of the rod, the crank of the reel, the stench of algae, the bob of my dinghy, the piney taste of gin, but I don’t miss tangling up tipsy in the fishing net and slipping into the lake’s murky blackness, where I swear that two-hundred-pound monster sturgeon swam right...

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Tighter, Goodbye

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pp. 140-159

Snapmare is certain the birds are from Ma and Pa. He’d been in his room, wrestling thoughts about Polly. Will she reciprocate his feelings or reject them? Then these two robins landed on his sill, their beautiful copper breasts speaking to him. They embraced...

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The Cry

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pp. 160-180

“Did you hear him?” the old lady asked. She eased from her golf cart and clutched Emily’s waist. Mid-hug, Emily wondered with strange trepidation if maybe this additional weight resembled being with child. A huge button on the lady’s shawl tapped against Emily’s vacant belly...

Credits

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pp. 181-182

Book Club Guide

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pp. 183-184

About the Author

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p. 185