Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-x

Contents

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pp. xi-xii

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xvi

One of the hallmarks of fine writing is that it often reminds you of other great writing while having its own voice. Jane Gillette’s short stories remind me of Alice Munro’s in showing both seriousness and levity and in moving freely in time from the past to the future, eventually finding the long view. Like Munro’s stories, Gillette’s are...

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A Preface for Mrs. Parry

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pp. 1-10

In the fall of 1965, my first year as a graduate student at Yale, I was forced to take an undergraduate Latin review class that met at eight in the morning. If I made a ninety or above, this grade would replace my failing score on the Latin reading comprehension test and thus fulfill part of the English Department’s language...

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Divine Afflatus

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pp. 11-22

When Johnson’s son was eight, he ran out into the street after a ball and died instantly: hit by a car. A terrible tragedy for the family. Johnson had two daughters and a wife he felt estranged from even before the accident. A few years later, Johnson’s unassuageable grief finally precipitated the divorce. His wife found his physical...

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Judas and the Slave Girl

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pp. 23-46

When I was thirteen, I was in love with a man exactly three times my age. This year he would have been ninety-nine, if he’d lived. No Mason of high degree could have put greater faith in numbers than I did at the time: 13:39. I actually fell in love with him when I was twelve, but I knew that when I turned thirteen...

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Sins against Animals

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pp. 47-62

In 1965, a few months before graduation, a man from the Job Corps penetrated to the upper floors of Main, the building at Vassar College where the seniors lived, a presumably impregnable niche. There he found corridors lined with astonished women who were more than willing to go teach remedial English, math, and social studies...

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The Ring and the Box It Came In

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pp. 63-76

It was the night of Open Studios at the American Academy in Rome, the night when the fellows show their projects and various friends of the Academy as well as the trustees come to look . . . and of course silently to judge. Just to be at the Academy is a great honor. To have the Rome Prize on your résumé announces...

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Meditation XXXI: On Sustenance

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pp. 77-92

Since there’s only one scene in this story and it takes place at the McDonald’s out on McGalliard Road in Muncie, Indiana, I’ll first kill a little time discussing food. That way, once we get there, we can quickly accustom ourselves to a straightforward act of charity. Therefore, please consider...

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Atlas Shrugging

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pp. 93-104

You’ve got to be kidding, was Phyllis’s predictable response. Wasn’t it written for idiots? A work of science fiction, The Road plus Utopia, with every archconservative idea exhaustively explained and then amplified with pages and pages of highly unlikely dialogue? A book usually read by teenaged...

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The Ghost Driver

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pp. 105-114

Let me tell you a story about how we became the success we are today. A number of years ago my husband left me to marry his girlfriend. I couldn’t blame him, really. Things had been cool between us for years, and from all reports she was as earnest...

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The Odor of Mr. Fitzpatrick

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pp. 115-122

Every Sunday Mr. Fitzpatrick went to an early Mass at St. Rita’s and then came over to announce his return to Mary, who wondered how the other faithful dealt with Mr. Fitzpatrick’s body odor. Did they create a doughnut of space around the hole of Mr. Fitzpatrick? Or did they accept him as a convenient...

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Visiting

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pp. 123-130

Jesus commands us to visit the sick and pray for them when they die. Judith seems to remember hearing this from someone, a voice from the past, maybe even someone from her Indiana youth. Raised by atheists and never going to church, she would have had to be told. Or maybe she picked it up as she wobbled toward...

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Irene

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pp. 131-144

Irene was nothing if not sensitive to her location, sensitive, too, to the names of the towns and cities through which she had conducted her personal hegira, and so it seemed significant that when Buck escaped from an upstairs window, the tree where he landed was located in Fort Bragg, some ten miles north...

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The Trail of the Demon

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pp. 145-156

This isn’t a very nice story, but I feel I should tell it because at the time of the assault I lived six houses away from Dawn, and she had so much to say I thought I’d never hear the end of it. It’s as if, in some sense, I owe it to her to pass the tale along—especially after I heard more about the whole...

About the Author

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pp. 157-160