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This Is Not the Tropics


Ladette Randolph

Publication Year: 2005

The stories collected in This Is Not the Tropics come from the geographic center of a divided nation, and its protagonists evoke a split personality—one half submerged in America’s own diehard mythology, the other half searching to escape tradition. Together they form a portrait of the Plains that is both quirky and poignant. While the themes in this collection are familiar—love and betrayal, loneliness and regret, the needs of the individual versus the needs of the community—the tales themselves are startling and new. Whether it is the story of an eccentric out-of-work accordion player; a woman ending a long marriage against the backdrop of a visit from her failing mother; a young girl who wishes to solve a mystery until real mystery enters her life; or all of the men in a small Nebraska town who annually compete in a hilariously earnest beauty pageant, these are tales that speak of the lives lived in the small towns, the prairie cities, and on the dirt roads off blue highways in the middle of nowhere and everywhere.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

... This collection has had the benefit of feedback from many who read it in earlier versions. Thanks to Alison Rold, Judith Slater, Hilda Raz, Gerry Shapiro, Marly Swick, members of the No Guilt Writers Guild: Liz Ahl, Chauna Craig, Charlotte Hogg, Kate Flaherty, ...

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What She Knows

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pp. 3-37

The pizza jiggles wantonly in the box the delivery boy holds open, a marketing gimmick, she guesses, some shenanigan Romeo’s has trained him to do, holding the box open so the pizza can be inspected. “I didn’t order a pizza,” Annie says. “Oh.” The boy looks down at the pizza. ...

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A Member of the Family

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pp. 38-58

Lena Bradfield walked past her mother three times at the bus station before she recognized her. It was her hair. Dyed jet black, it had been ratted and backcombed into an elaborate bouffant. “Ma?” Lena said when she finally recognized her. ...

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The Boy in the Band Uniform

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pp. 59-66

The boy in the band uniform was standing in Samuel’s kitchen when Zoe saw him from the hallway. Behind the boy she glimpsed through the garden-level window the sidewalk and the steps that had brought him into the house. She hadn’t heard him come in. Samuel chopped an onion for the stew boiling on the stove. ...

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The Shouting Woman

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pp. 67-86

Out the bay windows that night overlooking our backyard, orange leaves from the maple trees fell slowly. My mother was telling a story as we sat at the dining room table. “They’re having a mouse problem. Both Mary Lou and Tom are afraid of mice,” she explained, as though this somehow made them special comrades since they ...

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Miss Kielbasa

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pp. 87-106

When my mother called to ask if I’d come home to help my brother, Doug, prepare for his first year competing in the annual queen contest, a part of my hometown’s summer festival, I told her I didn’t want to do it. Each year my dad goes all out for the contest. He won it once, the year after Doug was born, and he wants to ...

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It’s Cheaper to Live in the Dark

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pp. 107-119

I learned that from my second husband. We’re divorced now, but I learned some things from him. He’d told me once about a book he read where a woman lived in the dark to save money. When he told me that story it seemed like a good idea. As long as he lived with me he wouldn’t go along with living in the dark. ...

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pp. 120-139

That night long ago, before we went to sleep in the unfamiliar bed at Ben and Gemmy’s house, my sister Christy and I talked about the hyacinths that had recently come up in our yard at home—grape hyacinth, their purple blossoms heavy with a sweet, fruity fragrance. We had helped our mother plant them in the fall. She loved ...

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The Girls

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pp. 140-168

Becca liked dogs. She might even have called herself a dog person, but she couldn’t quite figure out why Professor Blakely had asked her to watch his dogs while he was in Italy for a conference during the week of fall break. Only later did she realize she hadn’t been his first choice. Of course not. What had she been thinking? ...

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The Picture in Her Dream

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pp. 169-179

It was terrifying, the dream, and Gina woke in a sweat, sitting up straight in bed, feeling her heart clutch, her breathing rapid and ragged. Marcus, her husband of four years, had turned toward her, sleepy, clumsily patting her leg, you okay? falling asleep immediately not hearing her whispered yes. The next day and the next ...

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pp. 180-195

The shades were still drawn when Mary arrived home. In the dim living room the television flickered soundlessly. Strewn across the floor were soiled dishes, sections of the newspaper, and piles of empty bottles. There on the brown couch, springs sagging to the floor, wool upholstery nappy and soiled, asleep amid the chaos, was Mary’s husband,William. ...

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This Is Not the Tropics

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pp. 196-215

“There are many kinds of love in the world! Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Daddy.” Charlotte put the tiny card back into its envelope just as the typewriter repairman knocked on the door. “Good morning.” Charlotte held the door open for his tool cart. ...

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After Canaan

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pp. 216-234

Later, Sophia understood her education had started with this simple phrase: “Would you like to help me with the cooking while we put up hay next week?” It was her mother-in-law, Elva, speaking. They had been eating Sunday dinner at Elva’s house. Sophia had just married Elva’s son Sammy a month earlier. ...

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The Sensitive Man

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pp. 235-250

Cliff Adamson learned his new girlfriend, Heather Lange, was being followed by a man on a Harley two weeks into their relationship. Had she said it was a Harley? Surely it had to have been a Harley, no Goldwing, no Japanese rice-burner would do to describe his horror at her description of the stalker, but he honestly didn’t think she had said it ...

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pp. 251-265

The bell above the door jangled and I looked up from behind the counter. “Evening, Buss.” “Evening, Dill.” I work at Decker’s, an all night convenience store, on the night shift. Some people think it’s a dangerous job for a woman, but most of the people who come in here are regulars, and I’ve gotten to know them all. Whenever management offers me a ...

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The Blue Room

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pp. 266-280

There is nothing blue in the room, only a particular cast of light, a tincture of blue. The air is very still beneath the high ceiling. A shaft of sun slants across the floor. It is day, late afternoon. Nothing stirs. The room is empty, and yet, a pulse in the air suggests that someone has just left in a hurry, upset perhaps. Something terrible may have happened only moments before. A ...

Library of American Fiction

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E-ISBN-13: 9780299215132
E-ISBN-10: 029921513X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299215101
Print-ISBN-10: 0299215105

Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1st paperback

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social life and customs -- Fiction.
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