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Consequences of Desire

Dennis Hathaway

Publication Year: 1992

The stories collected in The Consequences of Desire describe a modern urban society in its extraordinary complexity, its often apparent absence of fixed values, and its resistance to easy understanding.

In "Counting Mercedes-Benzes," Marshall is a directionless young man who believes he can escape his parents' Beverly Hills lifestyle by marrying for love. He fails to realize, however, that the woman he thinks he loves, his mother's Hispanic maid Geneveva, has little in common with the person he imagines her to be.

The title story concerns a corporate lawyer who was a radical at Berkeley in the sixties. By chance he runs into his lover from that time and discovers how far the two have traveled in the intervening years. In "Lost in Rancho Mirage," Denton is a young man who might "have been picking up garbage or digging ditches if his grandfather hadn't left his (Denton's) father a piece of real estate that turned out to be directly in the path of a freeway". He must come to terms with the fact that he can never fully possess his beautiful girlfriend: "The imaginary sunlight bathing Jill, he realized, was a microcosm of a world in which she would always be the center; he would always be standing a little off, in a shadow, where he belonged".

The need to overcome reality often becomes an obsession for these characters. In "Space and Light," an architect's realization that a former protege has surpassed him both financially and artistically prompts him to attempt something wholly original for the first time, a project that leads him down an inexorable path to madness, to a darkness from which there is literally no escape. In "The Girl Detective," Justine's disappointment over her first sexual experience is juxtaposed to her resentment at being born a girl. To her, being a girl means "always wanting to be something different, someone else, unable to accept the facts that some of her friends seemed to consider, amazingly, a stroke of the utmost fortune." In the aftermath of her surrender to passion on the grass of the municipal golf course, she indulges her childish fantasy of being a private eye--"not Nancy Drew but Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Lew Archer, even the virulent, violent Mike Hammer."

Set mainly in California, these stories portray a world where dreams come into conflict with reality, where perception fills the space between truth and fiction, logic and emotion, fantasy and disaster.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Counting Mercedes-Benzes

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pp. 1-15

Marshall counted his first Mercedes-Benz as he turned from Doheny onto Sunset Boulevard, at that spot where the Sunset Strip is swallowed by Beverly Hills and all becomes green and silent. A cream-colored 450SEL sliding languidly past his window and prompting him to note, in order, a missing piece of chrome, a ...

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Lost in Rancho Mirage

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pp. 16-36

Nobody approved of Jill. Not Demon's mother and father, not his sister Claire, not even his best friend Mark, who said that even if times had changed in most respects a man without an appropriate wife was still a stray dog, something that would only get scraps and leftovers, a creature that you would feel leery about getting close ...

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I Like Rap, Don't You?

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pp. 37-55

Annie, once Ann, named Anna after the tragic heroine of what her father called the greatest novel ever written, wished that she had been named Emma after the Madame whose equally unhappy demise seemed in its Frenchness somehow more sublime. Annie was part of her own defenestration of a self-constructed ...

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The Night of Love

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pp. 56-71

Anderson read in the newspaper, nine months after the earthquake, that the local hospital was swamped with women giving birth. He imagined a mob of these women, all in labor, pushing and shoving to get in the hospital doors, and he remembered Coral's refusal to sleep in the bed—how they had sat up ...

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The Girl Detective

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pp. 72-88

At the age of eighteen she confessed to her mother that she had always wanted to be a boy, and in a tone of pained surprise her mother disclosed that after the birth of her brother certain steps had been taken to abet the conception of a girl, steps involving a thermometer and chart, abstinence at prearranged times, the ...

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The Apocryphal Story

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pp. 89-108

The river curled through Jason's dream like a snake, a tropical snake enormous enough to coil around him, squeeze the life out of him, and swallow him whole. He heard himself moan, and smitten with dread he awoke in a shudder and opened his eyes to patterns of light and dark that gradually evolved into forms familiar and ...

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Space and Light

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pp. 109-137

On his way to the Livingston house to mediate a dispute between Mrs. Livingston and the masons laying brick for the garden patio, Paul Westerly made a detour to look at a house designed by a man whose career had begun, one summer fifteen years before, as a draftsman in Paul's office. The house, on the side of a hill with a ...

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The Consequences of Desire

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pp. 138-160

He stood in the shadow of an awning, watching a woman in a green dress waiting to cross the street, and in a characteristic way he calmly considered opposing courses of action—stepping into the sunlight and calling her name, remaining in the shadow until she crossed the street and faded from sight. Although he hadn't ...

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Bésame, Bésame

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pp. 161-188

Richie's mother flew out to California for Christmas, just a simple, quiet two weeks with Richie and Consuelo and the kids, but it wasn't to be—on the very first day Richie came home from work to find her in her room, sitting on the edge of the bed, hands twisted and bloodless in her lap and a sour look of endurance on ...

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Sawtelle

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pp. 189-207

Charles lay awake in the pale light of dawn thinking of his partner, Ben, and of the predicament—Ben's wife messing around with the neighbor kid, a nineteen-year-old who went to junior college and lifted weights and rode a Ninja. What, exactly, did Ben need? Advice? Sympathy? Charles shut his eyes and saw the yellow frame ...

The Chosen

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pp. 208-227


E-ISBN-13: 9780820342948
E-ISBN-10: 0820342947
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820314754
Print-ISBN-10: 0820314757

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction