Publication Year: 2005
In the edgy novella Click” Jonathan's ongoing photo-documentary of a prostitute exposes how little intensity remains between him and his fiancée, Margaret. While Jonathan is plagued with doubts about his motivations and abilities as an artist, Margaret is worn out by her obligations not just to her needy husband-to-be but to all the men in her life. In The Ugliest Boy,” Justin develops an odd friendship with Steven, his girlfriend's brother. Steven was disfigured by fire in a childhood accident. Justin bears wounds more deeply hidden. The two forge a strange bond based on their anger and pain.
Crouse's stories often involve people trapped on the margins of society, confronted by diminishing possibilities and various forms of mental illness. The junior executive in Code” worries about his job--and his sanity--amid a sudden and wide-sweeping corporate layoff. A manic-depressive father and his teenage daughter dress as vampires and embark on a strange Halloween journey through their suburban neighborhood in the darkly humorous Morte Infinita.” In Swimming in the Dark” a family gives up on itself. Shredded slowly over the years since the accidental drowning of the eldest son, the remaining family members seek their own separate peace, however imperfect.
The men and women in Copy Cats are unwilling and often unable to differentiate reality from fantasy. Cursed with what one of them calls a pollution of ideas,” these are people at war with their own imaginations.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for a grant aiding in the completion of the stories in this collection. Thanks to my friends and family for their support: my parents Alfred and Marie Crouse, Perry Glasser, Jennifer Barber, Greg Moutafis, Jon Dembling, Kerstin Mueller, Brad and Kelly Mintz, Rusty Dolleman, Adam Spector, Dylan Hall, ...
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This was not the kind of thing Anthony wanted to hear on a rainy Saturday morning before the requisite dose of caffeine had pumped its way through his system. It sounded like the opening sentence of an hour-long, barely coherent rant—and not even an interesting one. The fluorescent light above Anthony’s head had been ...
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On the last Halloween Kristen spent with her father they dressed as vampires, and when he hefted the rock that would shatter the Eisensteins’ bay window and send their dog yelping into the woods, he smiled a sad vicious smile, and his face became the face of a vampire too. “There are two kinds of people in this world,” he said. Then ...
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A close-up of Stephanie’s face. The pockmarks in her cheeks, a slender scar on her temple, lips puckered like a model’s, but something dangerous in the eyes. Stephanie standing in front of a white drop cloth. Stephanie naked with her arms above her head so that she looks flat chested and boyish. Stephanie ...
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Candy was lost and I hoped I might find him somewhere in the graffiti-scribbled buildings of our youth. Or it was me who was lost. So I left my wife and daughter and drove north through six states back to that ruined Victorian house on the hill where Cheryl was throwing her never ending party. I entered through the wide-open back door, walked into the ...
Swimming in the Dark
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When I was young my mother sometimes woke in the middle of the night, the way people do in small houses where noise doesn’t have far to travel. She would pull her bathrobe tight around her, walk downstairs, and find my brother at the kitchen table hunched over a book. I don’t think they talked much, although she might have put some water on to boil, or turned ...
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My office did not look like my office. I had asked the department secretary to redecorate it while I was on vacation, and she had filled it with hanging plants—spidery things with long sharp leaves. All the green made me nervous. The increased feeling of responsibility depressed me. The plants would die ...
The Ugliest Boy
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Justin was in love with a girl whose brother had been disfigured by fire. The kids called him Barbecue, but only behind his back, because he stood over six feet tall, with thick biceps, a stomach hard from a regimen of sit-ups, and crossed daggers tattooed on his throat just below the scars. The face itself ...
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Page Count: 252
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction