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Paradise Road

Kirk Nesset

Publication Year: 2007

These short stories examine the various pitfalls, both physical and emotional, we encounter and suffer trying to find lasting meaning in love.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Title Page, Copyright

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-38

Widow Fudge was widowed young. Her husband, a smiling sandy-haired broker, met his end on Highway 116, east of Jenner, near the mouth of the river, thanks to thick fog and a seven-ton ready-mix truck. The husband she had before that died in Montana, off up in the hills, an accident of some kind while elk hunting....

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Chapter 2

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pp. 39-56

She sat at his wife’s place at the table, wearing her clothes — his wife’s clothes, that is. She ate a bit of carrot or two and a piece of potato, then picked the bowl up and drank, and pushed it his way and told him to finish, saying she’d had enough. He carried the bowl off and came back with a big plate of cookies. He refilled her milk, saying she could stay if she liked. He didn’t know what he expected...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 57-62

The story goes roughly like this: girl meets boy in chat room, agrees to meet downtown for coffee. And does, and after three minutes of coffee can see it’s not good. The story goes like such stories do. Girl’s got to ditch boy but can’t simply snub him outright; he’s not for her, but he’s human and not stupid, either. What’s more,...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 63-75

Pruitt knew damned well what he had bought. But he’d always been a sucker for good deals and couldn’t resist this one, no way, not with government agencies involved and foreclosure and desperation selling. A big part of his job, he’d told himself in the past, was cashing in on people’s catastrophes....

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Chapter 5

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pp. 76-88

I went anyway. I went to Club Mecca, tipsy already, and drank. I moved table to table, afraid of what and who I might see, then hung at the door, torn between staying and leaving, breathing smog in rather than smoke. Cars hissed like surf on the boulevard, clubbers and perverts slid up the sidewalk. Above, beyond the traffic and ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 89-97

They stand in the dark watching the cars and carport barn burn. Far below to the let, fire trucks switch up the mountain, all red flash and horn blast and echoey siren. They’ll get here too late, the poet is thinking — the eucalypti above the carport will go, then the hillside and cliff and who knows how many homes. Good God, the philosopher thinks: it happens so fast. Inside the structure, where...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 98-103

At Zephyr, as elsewhere, the dead transmit from their graves. As elsewhere, the stones are fixed with video feeds, and mourners with cordless headsets receive postmortem tidings, recorded premortem, of course, and timed for release via the internet at appropriate intervals. One will witness, inset on a stone (in closeup, the face deeply shadowed, retouched somewhat), the deceased lending...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 104-115

I am a musician of sorts, but the fact is I’m lazy. I might have played anywhere and with whomever I chose, but didn’t, and don’t. Instead I tune up and play for myself; I play solo at home. I go to concerts for pleasure and listen to albums. I sit in the chic spots on Melrose and Sunset, jotting my musings down on a pad, then type them up later to send out as reviews. I slouch at the compact...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 116-124

A good week for business, but not fun. The car show this weekend wiped out supplies, root beer and chocolate for shakes and long Coney buns. Another girl quit; Buddy’s lost three girls this month. And now Karen, his wife, has begun to suspect — about Buddy, about Laura Lee — saying if he doesn’t start to act like he’s married, well, he soon won’t be. So Buddy’s been good. Unbelievably good....

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Chapter 10

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pp. 125-126

It started with a circle of pebbles. He noticed it one evening driving up. A kind of pea gravel Stonehenge, there on the concrete walk by the shed. A tiny note was tucked under one pebble — he unfolded and read it as his car ticked on the gravel drive. Beside the walk his daffodils bloomed, outrageously yellow, though it was midwinter still; tonight the snow would resume and that would be it,...

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pp. 127-138

It’s trash day, late April. Town’s in the throes of spring cleaning. Wrecked sofas range at curbside, flanked by battered dinettes, spent loveseats, toilets, sinks, disabled strollers, playpens, rusty bicycle frames, and box after box after bag overflowing with clothing, bedding, plumbing, mouse-eaten electrical tape, snap-handled axes, brooms worn to the nubbins, and of course the more common...


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p. 130-130

E-ISBN-13: 9780822977735
E-ISBN-10: 0822977737
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822943150
Print-ISBN-10: 0822943158

Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Drue Heinz Literature Prize