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Of Memory and Desire

Stories

Gladys Swan

Publication Year: 1989

hese eleven compelling stories reveal the interplay and varying hues of two basic elements of human experience—memory and desire, Gladys Swan’s characters are frequently forced to shed their illusions as they struggle to shape their lives. The title story, like many of the others in the collection, has as its backdrop the beautiful but sometimes harsh landscape of the American Southwest. There a reclusive farmer known as Goat Man takes in a young Mexican boy as his companion. When the greed of a tax collector and the complicity of a community destroy Goat Man, the boy vanishes into the night but returns in the form of a legend, a reminder to the residents of the valley of their changing, crueler world. In another story a traveling carnival breaks down when a sandstorm does final damage to the dreams of the company, and a tired, almost defeated woman attempts to regroup and continue what has been so hopefully called “Carnival for the Gods.” An older couple, carrying their Jewish past to a “Land of Promise.” Discovers instead an alien territory and must struggle from day to day, one leaning to the past, the other inclining toward an unattainable vision of the future. In “The Ink Feather” a small, lonely girl, witness to endless quarrels between her mother and her much older brother, draws comfort from the world of her dolls and the prospect of adventure outside the mist-covered windows of her house. In “Getting an Education” a diffident young woman, “trying to be a student and to discover what she ought to be learning,” finds insight in the details of the lives around her, especially the secretive, eccentric existence of one of her professors. A widowed grandmother, in “Black Hole,” is impregnated during a chance encounter with a nameless stranger and shocks her family when she determines to give birth to and raise her child. Like that grandmother, all of the characters in these fictions—whether from the comfortable middle class or the fringes of society—are at odds with themselves and their world. It is Gladys Swan’s special gift that she can so seamlessly depict the particular terrors and wonders of their lives. This is a mesmerizing collection.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9

Contents

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pp. 10-15

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Carnival for the Gods

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pp. 1-15

It was the first time Dusty had ever backhanded her, and it was not just the blow, the pain, the blood from her lip flowing saltily into her mouth that gave Alta the shock: it was the sense that something fatal had struck at the roots of her life...

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Getting an Education

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pp. 16-30

Most of the neighbors took in the oddities of Findlay Brightwood the same way they took in everything else: the domestic quarrels of the Ryans; the untidy family life of Dr. Kiely— Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat—whose wife let the kids run wild...

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Reunion

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pp. 31-56

"Well, Jarve, you old sinner, it's about time," Alison said as she met me on the porch. She gave me a little peck on the cheek, then stood back to make inspection. "You've gotten skinny as a rail, Jarve," she said, "and pretty thin on top. The...

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The Ink Feather

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pp. 57-69

From inside, their voices rose, interlocked in quarrel. Adrian shouting as he always did, Mama protesting in her ragged way. She's fighting back, Willa told her dolls, Clarise and Isabelle, without conviction, as she sat on the swing in the...

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On the Eve of the Next Revolution

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pp. 70-80

Their last day in Guanajuato, the three of them—Sol and his wife, Evelyn, and their son Steve—drove up to the statue of Pipila, who stands with raised torch on a hill above the city. They climbed the narrow stairs inside that go up to the head...

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Sirens and Voices

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pp. 81-105

After Herman Carmody and his wife, Bobbie, had made love with gratifying ardor and lain for a time in each other's arms and he had finally fallen into a profound sleep, Bobbie lay staring into the darkness. Two dogs kept her awake with their...

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Black Hole

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pp. 106-116

That afternoon when they were together, it struck Ruth that she and her mother could have been any two women joined by a cup of coffee. As if their relationship had moved up or down a notch. Her mother had her shoes off, her legs folded on the...

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Land of Promise

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pp. 117-130

The end of the day: time to close. She had been on her feet all day and her legs ached. And she had gotten practically zilch out of Angie, the little girl she was training for behind the counter—slow as molasses and no head for even simple arithmetic...

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July

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pp. 131-143

Something was happening to the old man, that was clear. As though someone had lifted his mind from the rest of him, as one might steal a sombrero and leave a man bareheaded in the sun. Just that morning, July had had to catch him by the...

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Lucinda

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pp. 144-155

The night before, Alex had come, arriving sometime after midnight. Pilar sat up in bed, first hearing the car door slam, then the sound of the key in the lock. She slipped out of bed without turning on the light, hoping not to wake Lucinda...

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Of Memory and Desire

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pp. 156-166

The boy is become a legend now in these parts, in the way of things that lie partly buried in the past, partly out of it, like the ruins of the Indians who once lived here, or like the pichu cuate, the snake said to live in this region, so deadly that one...


E-ISBN-13: 9780807153697
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807114803

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 1989

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