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Eric Shade

Publication Year: 2012

These eleven interrelated stories follow strands of hope and nostalgia that bind together, or fence off, the people of Windfall. Eric Shade's fictional western Pennsylvania community is a place we all know: a town bypassed by the interstate, its rail line clogged with coal cars that haven't moved an inch in years. The men of Windfall still vie on the time-honored fields of contest--from bars to bedrooms to football fields--but none is sure any longer what is won or lost. Few certainties linger: the jobs are going fast and the best women are already taken.

In the title story, a group of unskilled laborers rerun memories of youth as they race against the dark to demolish the town's drive-in theater. A chain restaurant will take its place. Naomi dumps Dwight at the altar in "Hoops, Wires, and Plugs," but then Dwight fritters away the shamed agitation that could have propelled him beyond Windfall's stunting gravitational pull. In the final story, "Souvenirs," small-time hoods Paxson and Gus do what so many in Windfall can't: get out of town. They're off to Pittsburgh and a contract killing they hope will kick off a more rewarding life of crime.

In hands less able than Eric Shade's, Windfall's men would be caricatures, screw-ups with all-too-easy access to the makings of tragedy: pills, booze, fast cars, guns, chain saws. Instead their stories give us new ways to ponder change and its consequences. Windfall stakes out a gritty quarter of the literary map shared by Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg and Thornton Wilder's Grover's Corners.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction


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pp. 1-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. 1-14

Selfridge brought only four axes. A few of the other guys got hatchets to break up the smaller boards, clawhammers to squeak the nails up, and a hacksaw in case the monkey bars wouldn’t give in to the blunt back-ends of the axe heads. “I’m only smiling because I got exactly five hundred dollars in my pocket,” Selfridge said, patting his upper thigh. ...

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pp. 15-34

When the cold weather moves in you start missing the scent of citronella candles. You miss hitting whiffle balls up against the house wearing just shorts and no shoes. But with the change in season things go from lazy to hungry and you start dreaming of the whitetail. ...

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The Heart Hankers

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pp. 35-57

The story that used to go around about Sundry Gimler, the janitor at Windfall High School and host of the “Jesus Is Christ Hour” on WPAW, was that he dropped from a hole in the sky into a hole in the ice inWindfall, Pennsylvania. That was the day Sundry discovered God, or the day God discovered Sundry, or at least the day Windfall did. ...

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pp. 58-76

There’s ice cream if you and Jinxie want some: that’s what my mom had written on the note she left. I’d seen her tape it on the refrigerator just before she and Dad went out for the evening. ...

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A Rage Forever

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pp. 77-96

For ten bucks he’d take a cup filled with Skoal spit and cigarette ashes, swish it around like a richbitch wine taster, and in one shot swallow it all. Applause, bows. Then he’d will it back up with his fuck-you finger, pucker up and kiss the wrinkled bills. His Cadillac was green, a convertible, with ...

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pp. 97-116

We’d been living together a few years. We were getting the hang of it. We shared common tastes. Then Rhonda developed a new habit: making me wonder. Guess who mounted a trophy biggy, guess how many calories in ice cream cones, guess who I heard’s preggo, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. ...

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pp. 117-138

I’m Tom Teagle. This is Shitwad. Shitwad’s real name is Freddie. He’s my little brother, little murderer. Thirty-one birds, nine raccoons, a turtle, two tom turkeys: he’s the golden boy with a twenty-two. ...

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A Final Reunion

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pp. 139-165

Autumn, the air is fluid, it’s a tidal air. Leaves stir in the parking lot gravel. One gets caught in the cuff of Jeff’s pants. He’s outside the Inclined Plane. ...

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Hoops and Wires and Plugs

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pp. 166-182

Two girls, one with pink hair, the other blonde with bangs, they were flirting with Dwight Westover’s car in the parking lot of the Pratt Hotel. Dwight could see them through the window of his second-floor room. What he said was this: “Soggy bitches.” He threw his rental tux on the bed and went down the stairs and outside. ...

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The Last Night of the County Fair

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pp. 183-200

Before the county fair, the nearest I’d ever seen Don, my stepfather, get to a cow was when he ate a sirloin steak: he thought choice meat on his plate made him look sophisticated, though we lived in a pure crap part of Windfall, a hill of spoiling homes near Muleshoe Bridge that peered down on the old railroad shops. ...

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pp. 201-204

There were two of them, Paxson and Gus. They threw things off the Muleshoe Bridge into an old coal car. Beer bottles, a broken dishwasher, a lawnmower, and, once, many years before, a bag with a boy’s toe in it. ...

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pp. 205-217

I would like to thank the James Michener Foundation, whose generous financial support helped me to complete this book; Teresa Blair and David Beers; Cristiano Salgado and his family; Paulo Bailly; the students, staff, and faculty of the CreativeWriting Program at the University of Houston; my brothers, Ken ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780820344836
E-ISBN-10: 0820344834
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820324326
Print-ISBN-10: 0820324329

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Pennsylvania -- Social life and customs -- Fiction.
  • City and town life -- Fiction.
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