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Family Feeling

Jean Ross Justice

Publication Year: 2014

Jean Ross Justice’s Family Feeling, a novella and collection of stories, is a moving portrait of American domestic life of the last half-century. Often spanning generations, the stories are defined by subtle shifts in both family relationships and the ways in which we reconfigure them in memory and mind.
Many of the stories revolve around end-of-life scenes. An elderly man is visited by his middle-aged son’s young second wife and child, whom the son has temporarily abandoned in order to tend to his dying ex-wife. A recently widowed woman faces a complicated relationship with a troubled home health-care worker who had been uncommonly kind to her dying husband. Four middle-aged siblings reconvene in their childhood home to attend to the death of their father and find themselves simultaneously children of, and parents to, their own parents.
The unobtrusive historical breadth of the stories is remarkable. Reflecting back to Depression-era southern America from the perspective of the early twenty-first century, the characters provide us with an intimate view of the changing cultural landscape of our country. Issues of class are not merely ideological here—they are fluid and intricate aspects of fate and of soul.
Justice’s prose is characterized by quiet humor and attention to gesture. The deeply self-reflective and self-contained narrators offer us a window into issues of aging and mortality that is real and rare. In the manner of Alice Munro or William Trevor, Jean Ross Justice’s thought-driven fiction centers on pivotal moments of action or conversation that haunt—or reverberate—for decades.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-x

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Family Feeling

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pp. 1-81

...been for a visit and it was a good one, but she needed to get back to our three dear grandchildren. (Is her having a big family a reproach to us, Garrett?) But I see I’m drawing out the suspense without meaning to. I’m seriously sick, Garrett. And I’m asking you to come see me, however...

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pp. 82-97

...men standing outside and some more dark-clad people inside, and they go zipping off to the cemetery island. The memorials are stacked in rows—from a distance it looks kind of like a big wall of drawers.” “Yeah? Well. That’s interesting,” said Fran...

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The Interlude

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pp. 98-116

...sisters, Myra and Summer, had come from far away—Ohio and California. Lolly lived down below Kendall, twenty-odd miles away. Did the others think it was strange she’d moved in for this week or two, whatever it would turn out to be, sharing a bedroom with one of her sisters? If so, they didn’t...

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Double First Cousins

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pp. 117-137

...unhealthy, excitable sound. But this morning I was spared again. They’re gone, the others, Gwen and Kip and Norris; they’re all dead. No, it was not some mass tragedy: they got old, they died. I got old; I’m still here. Kip died quite suddenly, at his wife Gwen’s care center; he’d gone there to have lunch with her. I didn’t see him often in his old...

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The Stash

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pp. 138-152

...taken for her mother? “I’m sorry,” she said. She touched the woman’s shoulder lightly. “Well—have a good day.” Had she really said “Have a good day”? In the store, studying the offerings at the fish counter, she thought of the encounter with annoyance. I could have told her about my mother...

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Or I Shall Not Get Home Tonight

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pp. 153-162

...under the bed, and around the room. No watch, so I took the elevator back down and went to the booth where we’d been sitting. There were some other people in it, of course; I told them the trouble and they got up and looked around the seats and under the table, quite concerned, so nice. No watch...

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p. 163-163

...The stories have appeared in the following publications: “Mysteries” in Antioch Review “The Interlude” in...

Series Page

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p. 164-164

E-ISBN-13: 9780985932565
E-ISBN-10: 0985932562
Print-ISBN-13: 9780985932541
Print-ISBN-10: 0985932546

Page Count: 174
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1st edition.