Cover

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Half Title, Award info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book would not exist without the support, encouragement, and insight I’ve received from more people than I can adequately acknowledge here.
I would like to thank the University of Iowa Press and Andre Dubus III as well as the editors of the journals that first published many of the stories in this collection: ...

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Queen of Sheba

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pp. 1-12

Al gives me zero. All day long he sits glued to his armchair, drinking glass after glass of V8 juice and making a mess with his crackers. The crumbs end up everywhere—the upholstery and carpet, not to mention the little table he drags in front of the TV. At dinner, he’s tight-lipped. In bed it’s the same. ...

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California

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pp. 13-20

Heike wonders whether she’s made a mistake. She opens her handbag and examines a small piece of paper—TWA 302 11:23—then looks at the sign near the doorway where, until a few moments ago, passengers from her husband’s plane were still disembarking. ...

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Gunpoint

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pp. 21-37

The summer before I started seventh grade, not long after Patty Hearst was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison, my mother married a man who owned a ranch house with a yard full of lemon trees. As far as she was concerned, she’d hit the jackpot. Gerry didn’t drink, he had a job, and, ...

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House Made of Snow

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pp. 38-44

All evening, Stewart has behaved properly. Of this he is certain. Now it is late though, and night coaxes him into its arms. They are in his father’s car, his mother in the front seat, he in the back, driving to his father’s house in the country, where they will stay until morning. ...

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The Lure

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pp. 45-59

In a matter of weeks, it seemed, Stewart’s mother had become obsessed with the dog. Despite—or maybe because of—the fact that he, Banjo, didn’t belong to her. Things like that didn’t matter to Heike: who was the rightful owner of something, of a pet or a piece of property. She had no sense of boundaries or decorum. ...

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Enormous in the Moonlight

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pp. 60-64

It is Christmastime here again, the time of year I miss you the most. All day I spend baking Reindeer cookies and one Stollen after another. Already I have baked nine loaves and have four more to put in the oven. Each year, the list of recipients grows longer and longer ...

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Outside Is the Ocean

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pp. 65-77

The man offers him a drink. Gin and tonic? Bourbon? Cognac? Stewart isn’t much of a drinker. “Whatever you’re having,” he says, standing in the living room, awkwardly, looking over the harbor. He can’t quite remember what the guy said he does for a living—something with investments ...

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Potty Mouth

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pp. 78-87

Laurie knows it was a mistake to agree to take care of the dog, not that Roxy is a bad dog per se. Roxy is fine; it’s Heike.
Heike convinced Al to go on a cruise to Norway and Sweden —at his expense, mind you—for two weeks. ...

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Driving North

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pp. 88-105

Five years ago, when his mother announced that she was flying to Moscow to adopt a five-year-old girl, Stewart did his best not to react. His mother had always been the kind of person who made threats, who cajoled and coerced, until she got her way. ...

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Iceberg

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pp. 106-111

My dear, faraway Stewart,
Tonight it is very cold, and I am sitting here freezing. Even the robe you gave me two years ago is not warm enough. It is not quite 4 A.M., but for me it is impossible to sleep. I just had the most horrible dream. ...

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A Kind of Happiness

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pp. 112-125

She takes turquoise pills—more than she should —to fall asleep. That and the wine usually allow her to make it until the alarm goes off, but today she wakes early, when the sun is just rising. She sits up in bed, letting her eyes adjust, looking out across the city, which, in the distance, ...

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Clear Waters Below

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pp. 126-136

She thought the roads would have been busier today, the day before Thanksgiving. She’d braced herself for traffic, filled up the tank before she got on the freeway, thinking there wouldn’t be another gas station for some time, but she realizes that was silly—every turnoff, it seems, ...

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Amalia

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pp. 137-145

Two weeks ago, Adrian decided the agave had to go. From Galina’s perspective, the cactus wasn’t bothering anyone and actually made the place look a bit classier. “It’s a nuisance,” Adrian insisted. “It could put someone’s eye out.” ....

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The Sky and the Night

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pp. 146-156

The dog’s name was Marydog, named after the woman Ray loved, a dancer from Lubbock, Texas, who he swore was the most graceful creature he’d ever set eyes on. The Airedale was meant to lure the woman, his love, the angelic being he could not live without, back home: to coax her, ...

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Buddy

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pp. 157-177

Last night, after scouring the vegetable drawers in the fridge, Stewart set his alarm for 7:30 A.M. He set the backup travel alarm for 7:35, then brushed his teeth and checked both alarms again. Not that either alarm was actually necessary—he spent most of the night awake, dozing off briefly just after 1:15, ...