We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Piano Tuner

Peter Meinke

Publication Year: 1986

In The Piano Tuner, Peter Meinke writes of the foreignness that awaits us when we go abroad and when we answer our own front door to admit a stranger, that confronts us in unfamiliar cities and villages and in the equally disquieting surroundings of our memories and regrets.

Often in these stories, what seems a safe, comfortable environment turns suddenly threatening. In the title story, a writer's quiet existence amid his antiques and books is dismantled, piece by piece, by a demonic, beer-bellied piano tuner. In "The Ponoes," a man recalls how, as a young boy living in Brooklyn during World War II, he became a collaborationist in the brutal pranks of two Irish bullies. In "The Twisted River," the sedate collegiality of a Polish university is disrupted when an American on a Fulbright grant attempts to blackmail two faculty members. And in "The Bracelet," a young anthropology student doing field work in Africa finds herself drawn further and further into the role of a priestess of Oshun, into a life dictated by the configuration of cowry shells cast upon the floor.

Meinke writes of a world where our control over our lives seldom exists across a border, and often extends no further than our fingertips. Attempts to bridge two cultures, two lives are sometimes successful, as when an actor finds love in the arms of a tough-talking barmaid, but more usually lead to disillusionment, as when a hard-drinking salesman's career is shattered after he is drunk under the table one night by a Polish engineer, or when an English father struggles to find common ground with his American son. Riveting, almost terrifying, the stories in The Piano Tuner tell of decent men and women caught in events that they could never have predicted, would never have chosen.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (262.0 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (78.8 KB)
pp. ix

I: Home Thoughts

pdf iconDownload PDF (53.1 KB)
pp. 1-81

read more

The Piano Tuner

pdf iconDownload PDF (567.2 KB)
pp. 3-14

The piano tuner was a huge man, crowding the doorway. I hadn't known he was coming, but I got up from my desk to let him in; my wife was still out shopping. His head was small for his body, and his belt was almost hidden by the...

read more

Alice's Brother

pdf iconDownload PDF (322.4 KB)
pp. 15-22

Alice's brother Dan had been a smoker all his life and had just had a laryngectomy to treat the cancer in his throat. They took out his voice box, but he refused to let them insert an artificial one...

read more

Ruby Lemons

pdf iconDownload PDF (522.9 KB)
pp. 23-33

"Ruby lemons," Jack gushed all at once, turning from his typewriter. "High ruby lemons/7 He smiled his crazy smile at Mr. Mason, shaking his head up and down. The monkey leaped from his lap to the top of the china closet without...

read more

The Ponoes

pdf iconDownload PDF (558.9 KB)
pp. 34-45

When I was ten years old I couldn't sleep because the minute I closed my eyes the ponoes would get me. The ponoes were pale creatures about two feet tall, with pointed heads and malevolent expressions, though they never said anything...

read more

Conversation with a Pole

pdf iconDownload PDF (563.2 KB)
pp. 46-57

Alcohol has always been a friend I could count on, unlike most of my other friends. Life in the business world is no picnic, and just when you need someone is the time they generally pick to disappear. They transfer, and you have to...

read more

Losers Pay

pdf iconDownload PDF (592.9 KB)
pp. 58-70

I met him first on the basketball court. He was one of those small awkward players who throw themselves into basketball with tremendous energy, waving their arms, running erratically from man to man, never grasping the pattern of the...

read more

Even Crazy Old Barmaids Need Love

pdf iconDownload PDF (549.5 KB)
pp. 71-81

It takes about six months to make a decent bar. When Phil Masters bought The Grouper he threw out the new jukebox with its rock songs and put in the old one of his father's with its mixture of golden oldies and country. He put in more...

II: From Abroad

read more

A Decent Life

pdf iconDownload PDF (572.2 KB)
pp. 85-96

Hannah Broch didn't like the way her husband dressed, drank, drove, walked, talked, cleared his throat, made love (too noisy) or water (likewise). In the morning he'd try to fold his pajamas, but they always looked like a lump...

read more

The Twisted River

pdf iconDownload PDF (537.3 KB)
pp. 97-107

"What's black and white and runs away when you call it?" the American asked. Domanski was squinting at the menu, holding it up to the candle. "I give up." "A Polish...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (449.4 KB)
pp. 108-116

Emily had never hit a sheep before. Two years ago she had run over a dog right after Howard said, 'This is a thirty-five-mile- an-hour zone, you know/7 It took a long time for her to...

read more

The Starlings of Leicester Square

pdf iconDownload PDF (249.1 KB)
pp. 117-121

"I understand," the boy said. They were looking at a snapshot of four generations. "No, you don't," the man said. 'This was snapped right here in Leicester Square, in front of the statue of...

read more

Winter Term

pdf iconDownload PDF (537.0 KB)
pp. 122-133

That January everyone in Paris was under thirty. The streets bustled all day, but about 10:00 P.M., when the first movies emptied, they began to hum with a special youthful energy. Knots of young people clustered around street musicians...

read more

The Water-Tree

pdf iconDownload PDF (484.1 KB)
pp. 134-143

He liked to sit under the water-tree in the cool of the evening, nursing a cold bottle of beer and smoking a cigarette. Mrs. Carlin didn't let him smoke indoors anymore. It was quiet here at that time, except for the soft sound of the water...

read more

The Bracelet

pdf iconDownload PDF (658.0 KB)
pp. 144-156

At first she had felt like a white fleck of foam in a black sea. She would bob along the crowded streets of the cloth market in Ibadan, looking at the bolts of bright fabrics piled higher than her head in front of the open shops lining the narrow...

E-ISBN-13: 9780820343587
E-ISBN-10: 0820308447
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820308449

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 1986

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction