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Curled in the Bed of Love

Stories by Catherine Brady

Publication Year: 2003

To read Curled in the Bed of Love is to feel the incessant tug between devotion and desire that can unmake even the closest couple. These eleven stories are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in true Left Coast style, Catherine Brady's characters are as resolute in evading middle-class conformity as they are in clinging to their illusions about love. And while they never shy from paying their dues, they can't help but wonder sometimes if their choices have at last accrued too high a cost. What lies in the bed of love, with women and men curled sometimes in repose, sometimes in a defensive knot, are failed dreams, reproofs, ambitions, and stubborn beliefs.

Always, mortality threatens the lovers' embrace. In the title story, Jim and his HIV-positive partner contend with an illness that has fueled their love but also threatens to consume it. In some stories, an outsider exposes the frailty of a relationship. Claire, who's opted for a steady marriage in "The Loss of Green," is both stirred and repelled by the advances of her former mate Sam, a radical environmentalist with a predatory need to reassert his claim on her. And in "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord," Debbie, compelled to translate a brief affair with her cousin's fiancé into a profound transgression, comes clean on a sleazy national talk show.

All of Brady's stories are gritty and unflinching in their gaze, yet lyrical and rich in the imagery of stasis and change--an empty house too long on the market, a pair of kayakers riding out a patch of rough sea, a greenhouse in which the orchid blooms only suggest the darting vitality of butterflies and birds. There is much to learn in these tales of flawed but good people working hard to hold their lives together.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix


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pp. xi-xii

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The Loss of Green

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pp. 1-18

Every night, Sam makes Claire and Russell dance. He pushes the sofa and chairs against the wall, rolls up the rug, and puts one of the CDs he brought with him on the CD player. In the three weeks he has been...

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pp. 19-34

I’ve forgotten how long I told them I’d circle the block before coming back for them. Now I’m stuck behind a truck that’s backing slowly into a driveway. I picture my customers standing on the corner looking bereft...

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Nothing to Hide

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pp. 35-53

Hannah sings to herself without even knowing she’s doing it, sings in the bathtub, sings when she comes home from school and dumps her backpack on the floor, sings now as she loads the dinner dishes into the dishwasher...

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Honor Among Thieves

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pp. 54-72

Three days after Daniel left Carrie, a tree came down against her house in a terrible rainstorm, crushing the front stairs and puncturing the roof. Carrie and her daughter, Anya, got up from bed and set out buckets...

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Curled in the Bed of Love

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pp. 73-86

Their friends are not dropping like flies anymore. Now twenty-five pills a day will keep death from the door indefinitely. And all the medieval horrors—the purplish lesions of KS mottling the beautiful...

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Light, Air, Water

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pp. 87-105

When Vince and I lead Elena into the greenhouse, she stands still a moment, breathing in the calm. The air is thick as syrup—a wetness burdened with the acidic odor of the bark chips in which I pot the plants...

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Side by Side

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pp. 106-123

Wonder is not what Bill should feel after a truck smashes into his car at forty miles an hour, but he does. He is amazed that he could step unscathed from his crumpled Toyota, amazed by the way his body absorbed...

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

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pp. 124-142

I. When her son’s life begins in her, Katie is stunned, not sure she can have this child, not with Malcolm, not when her life is still so tentative. Malcolm does not share her astonishment. He does what...

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Roam the Wilderness

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pp. 143-161

In the letter he wrote to each of them, he mentioned his brother’s death. He worked hard on the sentences that described his feelings, constructed them, even though the feelings were true. Sam’s car accident...

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Written in Stone

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pp. 162-178

Hassan comes to me on Tuesday nights. He is having more difficulty than I am with our separation. I don’t know how other people manage to cancel one another out of their lives. I can’t. He can’t. Hassan...

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Behold the Handmaid of the Lord

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pp. 179-193

I cannot match what my hands are doing to any intention until I look in the mirror. When I look there, I meet my client’s eyes and we talk at each other’s reflection. Should the layers blend more...

E-ISBN-13: 9780820343693
E-ISBN-10: 0820325457
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820325453
Print-ISBN-10: 0820325457

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

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Subject Headings

  • Love stories, American.
  • San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.) -- Fiction.
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