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Compression Scars

Stories by Kellie Wells

Publication Year: 2002

The eleven stories in Kellie Wells's debut collection cover a wide range of eccentric characters--from a young girl experiencing her friend's strange demise to a set of opposite-sex conjoined twins. Forced to deal with the debilitating confines of the physical world--usually manifest in some kind of deformity or affliction, from compression scars to mysterious blue skin--Wells's characters struggle to transcend their existential disappointments and find some way and someone to love.

In the title story, Ivy and her best friend Duncan struggle to understand their mortality as Ivy learns of his potentially fatal internal scarring caused by a moped accident. As Ivy says, "Things can get so strange so fast," and they frequently do in Wells's stories. But Ivy and Duncan help each other escape their frightening, difficult world, if only momentarily, through imagination, good humor, and closeness.

"Godlight" addresses most specifically the questions that are evident in all the stories: Do you believe in God, and do you believe in reincarnation? Jonas, the Hyatt Regency Hotel's live-in light bulb replacement man, encounters two different characters--a child who lives in the hotel and a woman who claims that her identity has been altered for the Witness Protection Program--who ponder these questions. Meanwhile, Jonas is left wondering what has really become of his missing daughter, Emma.

The physical world is brought into question frequently in this collection, and in "My Guardian, Claire," we see what can happen when someone tries to transcend it--and succeeds. During a séance to reach the narrator's late mother, Claire reaches the spirit world and never truly returns. The narrator tries desperately to retrieve Claire through a hilarious trip to the Exotic Animal Drive-Thru Paradise.

Compression Scars is an eloquent and original collection that vibrantly captures the oddities of both the everyday and the out-of-this-world.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction


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pp. vii

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Compression Scars

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pp. 1-22

The summer the bats came, Duncan began wearing only blue and my breasts grew a whole cup size as if I were feeding them better. The day I first noticed the bats, I had gone outside to watch the Roto-Rooter men dig up the Dorsetts' backyard. Mr. Dorsett paced back and forth...

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Blue Skin

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pp. 23-38

Clancy is watching the Oprah Winfrey show. There is a woman on who insists that the male Y chromosome is directly responsible for war and high interest rates. Her lips quiver as she speaks and she shakes clenched, white-knuckled fists at the...

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pp. 39-55

Jonas unscrews the burnt-out light bulb carefully, as though it were something he was going to plant and nurture, a tulip, an onion. This is what he does for a living. He works for the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and his sole occupation, the chore that...

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My Guardian, Claire

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pp. 56-73

When I was six years old, a ring of shingles wound around my mother's waist like a belt, and she stopped breathing when the ends met. Dr. Avery Schoenfeld's Bedside Guide to Good Health says death by a girdle of shingles is a myth...

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Star-dogged Moon

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pp. 74-93

I wasn't always as I am now, ugly, distorted, features culminating in a disordered aspect. Wasn't always deserving of the averted gazes that carom off my own straight-ahead stare. Sometimes I catch only the end of the movement, the head arcing away, but...

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A. Wonderland

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pp. 94-108

Alison is blonde and thirteen and avoids eating red meat. She once read about a man who led an art movement and demanded that his followers eat only green food because green was his favorite color. His followers complied...

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Cassandra Mouth

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pp. 109-113

It was I a day painful with sunshine when I said Dog and one appeared in my garden, lumbering out of the foliage like timelapse botanical evolution, plant to animal in a matter of minutes, the time it takes to name the outcome of a foregone conclusion...

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Swallowing Angels Whole

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pp. 114-132

In the beginning, there was the Word, and the word was me, and I was a baby. As I got older, I saw there were others, but still I suspected it was all about me. It wasn't until I realized that I might be the other myself that I began to feel a vague discomfort...

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Sherman and the Swan

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pp. 133-148

Sherman likes mayflies, admires them for their courage, their quick impulse to propagate, in the face of their brief life span; they are sudden and fleeting things. Sherman dislikes firearms. He cannot understand how something clearly intended for...

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Secession, XX

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pp. 149-174

On the thirteenth day following fertilization, "we" found "ourselves" with three X's and a Y to work with, so it didn't take brain surgeons, or even budding geneticists, for the excessive zygote we were to figure out how best to assemble ourselves. We were the thwarted hermaphrodite splitting defiantly down the middle, reconciled...

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Hallie Out of This World

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pp. 175-192

I was born of an indiscretion. This is how my father tells it. One night he lost his head. He was all body. Hands, penis, stomach, butt. With no head. It rolled away and left him to grope, the headless horseman without the horse. It was a bowling ball...

E-ISBN-13: 9780820342092
E-ISBN-10: 0820342092
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820324319
Print-ISBN-10: 0820324310

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction