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No Lie Like Love

Paul Rawlins

Publication Year: 2012

A shady financier visits his small hometown, a middle-aged divorcé emerges from a life of drastic austerity and self-denial, a sick and dying professor discovers the healing touch of a former student. From the South African veldt to the barren Utah desert, from the green lawns of suburbia to moonlit Pueblo ruins, the people in Paul Rawlins's debut story collection brave the Big Questions about relationships, love, and death, finding more often than not that their happiness to just get by is not enough. Asking for truth or understanding, but hoping the answers will be simple, they struggle with feelings often too deep, too new, too disquieting to articulate.

The voices we hear most often belong to men—good men who have somehow come up short on love, answers, peace, time. Like the pro football player with a torn-up knee in "Big Texas," the HIV-positive teen in "The Matter of These Hours," or the recovering heroin addict in "August—Staying Cool," they find that age, accident, or self-made circumstances have stolen their abilities, stung their pride, or worse. Dangerously distanced from the women they should have loved more, they draw closer to buddies, brothers, fathers, and sons.

But like the alkali flats in "Good for What Ails You," transformed by flash-flooding into an inland sea, Rawlins's characters show themselves capable of quick and fundamental change. Farmers and soldiers, athletes and scholars, rebels and high rollers, they fit our preconceptions only in the shallowest sense. In the ways they connect with Rawlins's elemental imagery—sun, water, earth—these people play with our essential notions about men and women as they surprise themselves about their strengths, about what they really desire and what others desire in them.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgments

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

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No Lie Like Love

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pp. 1-13

Down Theil Road outside of Washtucna, Washington, the cobalt blue of the south horizon at sunset marks the far-offline the sailing men of Christopher Columbus feared. A mile off West 26, first to the north, then to the south, you'll see white houses, and they'll each have a barn and a couple of silos, a windmill, and a pine windbreak. ...

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Big Texas

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pp. 14-30

There are nine of us at a noisy Italian restaurant for Al and J.B's anniversary party. Al is at the end of the table, where the waitresses have cleared room for his wheelchair. Rome at Home has the best-looking waitresses in San Antonio, Al tells me, college girls that glow like the pictures that come in photo frames. ...

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The Matter of These Hours

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pp. 31-43

Jan does it like this, first day back. First day. Two hundred kids bumping, squalling like sheep in a kraal. Prefects in their new coats the color of plums, with name badges, handshaking and pointing directions down the yellow halls. Jan does this. ...

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Big Where I Come From

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pp. 44-53

I have a secretary to keep track of my days and everything I have to sign. And she loves me, too. She looks like Wonder Woman, wears those heavy glasses and sheer blouses knotted with smart ties at the collar. She's busty and efficient, my right hand. ...

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August—Staying Cool

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pp. 54-68

This summer in record heat, five days running over a hundred degrees, I'm staying cool —no smack, no ice, no Robitussin remedy— jacked up on rock and roll pumped out on monster floor-to-ceiling speakers from my brother's apartment. He explains how they produce a wall of sound that turns the front end of the living room into a stage ...

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Home and Family

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pp. 69-83

Now, with my wife gone, and my children with her, and my job, I start my day with eggs I buy two dozen at a time on gray cardboard sheets. I germinate bean plants and tomatoes in the little bra-like cups, and I stack the cracked half-shells like bowls in the corner of my kitchen. ...

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Good for What Ails You

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pp. 84-97

"You'll have a baby," I tell her, my mouth half full and chewing. "What's your hurry if it's just going to look like Kingsley?" Kingsley, no question, got Jean Ann married to him before the lights came up. ...

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pp. 98-119

While they drove, Graham and Tokkie listened to the rugby over the radio. It was all Western Transvaal this year; there was nobody to stop them. They had a scrappy center who was always giving the "up yours" sign to the other team's crowd after a try. Graham had the build for rugby, but he didn't have the speed in his chunky feet. ...

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Still Life with Father

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pp. 120-127

These days my father has grown particular about his teeth. They've all been pulled now, and what he's got on his mind are two sets of dentures, uppers and lowers, that he works over with a little brush under the light at the kitchen sink as careful as if he was repairing a watch. ...

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pp. 128-143

If I had a mother, I have told Duke, she would look like Charlemagne, who is sitting now in the hay at the top of the barn where we all can look out the window at the moon. She has hair the color of hay and ditch grass in the fall, and her face and arms are the color of the white moon in the winter. ...

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pp. 144-164

In Albuquerque I have given my ragged body over to the care of a bossy, spindle-limbed white woman and a sour peasant who goes by the unlikely name of Robert Hombre. Now Sarah Hickman, the woman (whom I and everyone I know have always called Hickey), tells me she's made an appointment for me with an herbalist ...

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 179-180

E-ISBN-13: 9780820344959
E-ISBN-10: 0820344958
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820318684

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction