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CAUTION Men in Trees

Darrell Spencer

Publication Year: 2000

The nine stories of CAUTION Men in Trees capture the pressure, need, and frequent helplessness of people confronted with intractable reality. As suggested by the collection's epigraph from Superman—"Did you say kryptonite?"—the characters in these stories have reached a point where they realize that parts of their lives are coming undone, and that their own thoughts and actions—or, frequently, the failure to act soon enough—are the cause. Though settings and situations vary, the same sense of overwhelming urgency recurs throughout the collection. The stories reflect a world distressed by conflict and settings fraught with the occurrences of personal violence.

Against the background of the O. J. Simpson trial, a man refuses to assist in a friend's suicide and realizes that he has been avoiding many unpleasant truths about himself and his life. A son faced with his father's debilitating stroke sees that he must ultimately confront the mortality and feelings of grief that he has been concealing. In the title story, the film Bugsy and talk about the disappointing reality of pop-culture heroes set the scene for a husband's frightening confrontation with his own limitations. The shock of stark revelation combines with tightly wound chains of suggestive events to create a collection of gripping, edgy stories about characters who, however battered, survive.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Park Host

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pp. 1-25

... one-on-ones where they lock horns, do these everyday equivalents of Piper Cub open-cockpit wingovers (years back when his wits were quicker and his feet still good, Red flew supply drops and the U.S. mail into Nevada mountains and deserts, was expert in the Great Basin the way you are master of and have down cold ...

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Blood Work

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pp. 26-51

... put his hamstring in their temple. It's a curious way to express what she sees as the voucher of her goodwill, but he understands what she means. J. J.'s not been in Salt Lake City for more than two days in the last five years, did grow up here, though, and his mother was Mormon from the word go, an affiliation she often ...

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There's Too Much News

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pp. 52-71

... summer, the backside of the Appalachians. Family phoned from Nevada, and we kept saying fall came, the leaves dropped, and we learned we had neighbors. That's a good one, they said. One or the other of us on the extension, we said, "Trees here, there, and everywhere, like in Red Riding Hood and slasher ...

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The 12-Inch Dog

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pp. 72-89

... wags my bird finger, and says, "Dupuytreris contracture." The bump's the size and hardness of a kidney bean and is centered inside the top of the V of the M of my life line. I'm working on how to describe Doc to my wife Patty. She'll ask me to. His face looks like it was torn apart and then mended under gunfire. His stiff ears poke out and are stamped crude as ...

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Caution: Men in Trees

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pp. 90-111

... Siegel is all about. Why the movies? Why the full-page spreads in newspapers, five columns deep plus photos? Bobby's father, Lewis, met Siegel. His shop did the sheet metal work for Siegel when he built the Flamingo in '46. Lewis, who's in his seventies, lives with Bobby and his wife. He ...

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Late-Night TV

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pp. 112-131

... wife Kay live. We're on the frontage road, quarter of a mile across an open field from the freeway. You take a dirt road south of us to get to the houses. There used to be just one brick two-story and a sheep camp back there, both lost under a clump of Chinese elms. Then last summer flatbeds hauled in a shabby, birthday cake ...

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Please to Forgive Sloppiness

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pp. 132-154

... Lyla time and again like something shook from a tree. Life's been, for Stuck, a high-wire act that's left him upside down in untidy corners, feeling lopsided, baleful, his eyes dry and sore, his elbows cut, his nose snotty, and a thumb broken and off-shot for good. It's amounted to the romp and stagger cowboys and ...

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It's a Lot Scarier If You Take Jesus Out

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pp. 155-173

... change of scenery, and it doesn't mean you can't go to heaven, just that according to their plan of salvation you spend eternity in a third-rather-than-first degree of glory, a telestial not a celestial kingdom, the celestial being the glory of the sun, even the glory of God. There was a time when I believed what the Mormons said. ...

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Pronto Bucks

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pp. 174-194

... talked that way. Like an after-dinner speaker. Like he was celibate. We were shooting pool, nine ball. He'd run the table on me, and I was racking next game. He said, "So life goes. Step two builds on step one." He built steps in the air, said, "You climb so high you're looking down like one of those spaceship photos. It ...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 195-


E-ISBN-13: 9780820337463
E-ISBN-10: 0820337463
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820321820
Print-ISBN-10: 0820321826

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction