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New Stories from the Midwest

Jason Lee Brown

Publication Year: 2011

New Stories from the Midwest presents a collection of stories that celebrate an American region too often ignored in discussions about distinctive regional literature. The editors solicited nominations from more than three hundred magazines, literary journals, and small presses, and narrowed the selection to nineteen authors comprising prize winners and new and established authors. The stories, written by midwestern writers or focusing on the Midwest, demonstrate how the quality of fiction from and about the heart of the country rivals that of any other region. The anthology includes an introduction from Lee Martin and short fiction by emerging and established writers such as Rosellen Brown, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Christie Hodgen, Gregory Blake Smith, and Benjamin Percy.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-ix


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pp. xi-xii

Editors’ Notes

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pp. xiii

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pp. 1-4

Not long ago, I attended a panel discussion where someone from the audience asked why the literati seemed to overlook writers from the Midwest, not granting them the critical acclaim and recognition accorded writers from other regions, most notably the South. The answer from one of the panelists, who was, of course, a member of said literati, went something like this: When the Midwest can produce a Faulkner, then it ...

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pp. 5-15

The signs began to appear ten miles before we got to the entrance, hand-painted billboards of smiling dinosaurs in outrageous colors: ONLY EIGHT MORE MILES BEFORE YOU HIT TERRA DINOSAUR. RAAAAAR! SIX MORE MILES AND YOU’LL BE BATTLING THE MIGHTY T-REX! Even so, we missed the turnoff, which we realized when we saw another sign: ...

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Being and Nothingness (Not a Real Title)

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pp. 16-27

In the next room Incunabula de la Luz (not her real name) is auditioning people to be her mother. Her real mother—at least she claims to be her real mother—wanted to come to the auditions, but Luz—Lucita—said no. So this is how come I’m on the phone doing the play-by-play. ...

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Bringing Belle Home

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pp. 28-38

A man who trusted himself to own a gun could walk into this place and shoot these guys, one after another, watch the glass fly: Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Yukon Jack, Johnny Walker Red. The bartender pocketed a dollar-fifty tip and smiled. Thomssen grinned and saluted, but he felt the grin pull tight across his face like a scar, and he ...

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The Drowned Girl

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pp. 39-53

My son began talking to the drowned girl on a Tuesday, and by Thursday I knew that he’d fallen in love. “You should see her eyes, dad,” he said Thursday morning at breakfast, doing what young men do: falling completely for every part of a woman. Her ankles, too, were perfect. ...

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The Way to Mercy

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pp. 54-58

There are three things you need to be a smelt fisherman: a net, a bucket, and your thumb. There is only one thing you need to be a cadaver, and that’s to be dead. My father and I had gone smelt fishing each spring ever since I’d turned seven. Now it was 1972, I was a boy of ten, and Richard Nixon had just been reelected president. That was also the ...

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Rubber Boy

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pp. 59-67

The first time I fell I was one and in a walker and I tipped down the basement stairs, head over plastic wheels. I was in a coma for three weeks—my mother sleepless at my bedside, my hand in hers—and then one day I woke up, all better. On my fifth birthday I fell ten feet off my uncle’s balcony onto the pavement and landed on the ...

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Pure Superior

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pp. 68-85

Katrín came to us from Russia, with love and hate, almost a year ago. She was my parents’ bane and my only friend, and she confirmed for me something I’d been suspecting about our Upper Peninsula. In every place, there’s somebody who stands for the whole cycle of life there, and it’s because of Katrín that I know that our particular ...

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pp. 86-108

At the age of thirty-one, I moved in with my mother. This was not entirely my fault. My apartment building was about to go condo, and I could no longer afford the rent. My lanky, bookish boyfriend took a job in Florida and unexpectedly moved away. My pet octopus caught a mysterious virus and died; I came home from work and ...

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Tell Yourself

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pp. 109-111

Do not hate all men just because your daughter has come out of her bedroom wearing low-cut jeans that ride so low her pubic hair would be showing, if she had pubic hair. She says all the middle school girls shave down there, though surely your daughter has only a few baby-fine wisps. The mother of a girl can so easily fall into ...

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The Houseguest

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pp. 112-127

The Jews of Europe were disappearing. This was what the rabbi of Abraham Auer’s congregation, Rabbi Kaufman, a great spiritual leader and also his partner at bridge, told him one Wednesday afternoon while Auer mended the hem of the old man’s coat. Congregants who’d been receiving regular correspondence for years from ...

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The Guinea Pig

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pp. 128-141

Lisa’s friend Dawn, who I had a crush on because she was Lisa’s best friend, and because she said she liked my hair and would even touch it occasionally with her fingers, brought over her guinea pig. It was a brown guinea pig with a black-and-white head. One of those furry, tufted guinea pigs that looks like a brush you would use to ...

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Korean Wedding

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pp. 142-168

I’m in Philadelphia for a wedding this weekend. The groom is Jason Choi. He’s an investment banker in New York. The bride is Hannah Lee. She’s a management consultant. I don’t really know what either of those mean. “Just imagine the sound of a cash register opening, twice,” Perry Kim tells me. ...

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The Tree

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pp. 169-172

The story begins when a pinecone raises its knuckles and abandons its nuts, losing them to the birds and the chipmunks and the wind, only one of them taking hold in the earth. This is in spring, after the powdery snow has turned to a hard rain that makes the rabbitbrush go yellow and the cheatgrass green and sends floods of brackish ...

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Sister Light-of-Love Love Dove

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pp. 173-186

I was a nothing and a nobody before I met Father. I was no spotless virgin, but a no-good, man-hustling, whisky-guzzling, money-sneaking slavified harlot who couldn’t see past the end of the day. Until I found Heaven. Heaven healed me, but it didn’t happen all at once. You don’t just dial in to ...

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The Threshold

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pp. 187-198

She had never had any difficulty admitting her desperation to marry. Possibly it was the disparity between her immaterial profession—she was a philosopher, a full professor, whose daily work involved defining reality, challenging it, asking it impertinent questions like “How do I know what I know?” and “Are we born ...

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pp. 199-215

After getting an A for my “Western United States” salt map, eleven colored states covering three square feet of plywood, I wanted to make a historical building out of sugar cubes. But Miss Vojta said we had to work in pairs for the next project, and I was odd man out in the pack of five I ran with. Brian and Doug and Kurt and ...

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Do You Like This Room?

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pp. 216-229

“Do you like this room?” “Yes, it’s very nice.” “You don’t say that with much conviction,” he said, leaning forward in his chair, which faced her on the sofa. “It’s a fine room, really. It looks like it’s your entertainment center.” ...

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Blood and Milk

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pp. 230-246

I am in the middle of childbirth, rocking frantically in the chair, commanding Gordon to rock me, accusing him of not rocking hard enough and of smelling like meatloaf besides—when my mother, critical, demanding, a hypochondriac who hates doctors, enters a hospital five states away with self-diagnosed appendicitis. I am ...

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Man of Steel

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pp. 247-261

A commercial changed my life when I was ten years old. I was watching television in my living room, which really meant that I was tossing a basketball in the air distractedly while slipping in and out of daydreams. Sometimes, during commercials, I would sink so far inside my own head that by the time the show came back on, I ...

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Bedtime Stories for the Middle-Aged

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pp. 262-281

Once there was a girl who was pretty but fat. Her father was a busy insurance salesman, and her mother stayed home performing those duties necessary to the care and maintenance of the girl, whose name was Lisa. Lisa’s mother was a beauty queen, a former Miss Kansas who kept a picture of herself, her crowning moment, propped ...

Thirty Other Distinguished Stories

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pp. 283-284

Contributors’ Biographies

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pp. 285-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780804040457
Print-ISBN-13: 9780804011358

Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Middle West -- Social life and customs -- Fiction.
  • American fiction -- 21st century.
  • Short stories, American -- Middle West.
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