Front cover

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Half title, Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Good Times

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pp. 1-22

Walter caught the sight out the corner of his eye one hot July day, and for so long afterward he asked himself what if he had never seen those dangling legs from the balcony above, kicking, kicking, kicking against the open air. ...

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Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone

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pp. 23-36

Walking with a hunched posture, shambling through a windy day, being pelted by cool dots of water. There was something inevitable about my bent gait. Somehow, somewhere deep down I really did believe it would protect me from the rain. Did no such thing, of course. ...

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A Friendly Game

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pp. 37-52

Every day, twice a day, Joan Santi bathed her son in lavender, from the soft spot on his head with its wispy hairs to his tiny light brown toes. You could always smell it emanating from every crevice of baby Phil. Consequently, Joan’s hands carried the smell. This was back in the eighties when she was a new mother. That’s what she became known for. ...

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Boxing Day

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pp. 53-56

Daddy’s pissed. I can tell ’cause I can hear his gloved fists slapping the punching bag downstairs. It’s a flat plapping noise. The louder the sound, the more pissed he’s become. He says every day he punches the bag is boxing day, but today is actually Boxing Day. ...

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The Slapsmith

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pp. 57-64

Nicolette fingered the cuts above her eye and the tender spots along the side of her face. Her shoulder ached, as did her back, which had absorbed the shock. ...

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202 Checkmates

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pp. 65-80

I sat with my back pressed on that old, scratchy brown couch. Tom chased Jerry across the television screen and then the image dissolved into a white dot in the center. I turned to see my father holding the remote control in one hand and a crumpled cloth cradled in the crook of his other arm. ...

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Juba

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pp. 81-96

The man walking toward me stretched his hand out as we crossed the street. I shook it and kept walking, as I had never seen him before. ...

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The Legend of Ezekiel Marcus

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pp. 97-112

A month after school opened—when the most coveted boys had paired off with the most coveted girls and, for the majority of us, our affections were going tragically unreturned—Mr. Coles, the new art teacher, decided he hated Ezekiel Marcus. It was in the way he shied from addressing Zeke whenever he could, the upturned curve of his lip when he was unable to avoid talking to him, ...

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Confirmation

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pp. 113-136

My father, dead now, but back then standing in that Episcopal church. Oak brown like the benches and tall like the sturdy tree out front that I often thought of when I thought of him. In fact, this Sunday I imagined him as that tree bursting from the ground beneath the undercroft, shattering the floor of the nave, the leaves of his head scraping the church ceiling. ...

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Party Animal: The Strange and Savage Case of a Once Erudite and Eloquent Young Man

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pp. 137-150

Of all the cases of Reverse Animalism1 that we have either read about or observed firsthand, the case of Louis Smith2 is the most puzzling, if in many ways the clearest. And if we may make so bold a statement, it is a case that is often misunderstood owing to its mishandling. ...

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Klan

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pp. 151-152

There was then the time the Klan galloped through the main yard of Freedman’s University late in the evening. The perils of an open campus. ...

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Razor Bumps

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pp. 153-174

My head—the briar patch it had become—was like the Wildlands, host to all sorts of mythical beasts, for instance Br’er Rabbit, who each night for a month or so untangled himself from my locks and leapt across the living room, leaving to enjoy an adventure or two before returning to the thicket of my dome. ...

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Three Insurrections

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pp. 175-192

I went deep into the Wildlands one day, and when they found me, I was near death. My flesh generated enough heat to keep a power plant going for a month, probably. I burned at 107 as if my heart had been replaced by a tiny sun. The doctor tells me brain death begins at 106. He says this ashen-faced, surprised I’m sitting up, conscious, bleary and dazed, but alive. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 193-194

First, I’d like to thank all the readers who opened their minds and their hearts to these words. I wrote them especially for you. ...

Series page

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