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Out of Time

Geoff Schmidt

Publication Year: 2011

A sweet slipstream stew, a call and response to Hemingway’s In Our Time, Geoff Schmidt’s debut collection Out of Time is a meditation on meaning and mortality, and the ways that story and the imagined life can sustain us. In these stories, vengeful infants destroy and rebuild the world, rivalrous siblings and their mother encounter witches and ghosts and the possessed, Barack Obama and Keith Richards smoke their last cigarettes, men and women with cancer variously don gorilla suits or experience all time simultaneously. Time is running out for all of the people in these stories, yet the power of language, the human ability to tell, to imagine and invent, is a redemptive force. “The stories in Out of Time chase after the secrets and sorrows of families, revealing the lengths people will go, and the harm they will do, to keep their worlds together. These characters are not crazy, they are in love and afraid. Geoff Schmidt writes a lucid, new mythology in prose that's limned with fear and awe. To read these stories is to feel the force and urgency of a new and vital literary voice.”—Ben Marcus, author of Age of Wire and String, and judge

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

Half Title

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Previous Winners

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Title Page

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Copyright page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix

The following stories appeared, often in slightly different form, in the following magazines: “Man in Gorilla Suit by Moonlight” in The Gettysburg Review; “Tangle Apple Flesh” in Black Warrior Review; “Wherever You Are, You’re Already Gone” in The Alaska Quarterly Review; “Jenny, With Bulldog” in ...

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Man in Gorilla Suit by Moonlight

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pp. 1-8

It is past midnight and Janet is up in the oak tree. She is the bird with black feathers. When she twitches her head the tips of her black feathered braids just brush the tips of her small breasts, just lightly, just so. Her flowered blouse hangs from a nearby branch. She does not need it. She is the black bird that drops feathers ...

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Chapter One

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pp. 9

The thick drapes are drawn. The lamplight, yellow. The boy sits between his father and mother on a couch that faces the old man and woman on their loveseat. The room is crammed with knickknacks, carvings, plants, ashtrays. His father and mother are smoking. They are talking to the old woman. The boy watches ...

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Tangle Apple Flesh

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pp. 10-32

Anachronisms were creeping up the lawn. In the half-light just past dawn, Cooper sat naked on the porch swing of his mother’s house, cross-legged, peeling an apple with a hunting knife he bought in Korea. The skin of the apple curled down into his lap like the sheddings of snakes. After the entire skin lay tangled ...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 33

He is walking down the long lane that leads to their house. His father is beside him. On either side of them are fields stuffed with new snow. The fence posts wear high white caps. Ahead is the stream and the bridge and their house on the edge of the woods. His sister is far ahead, near the house, galloping home. He ...

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Wherever You Are, You're Already Gone

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pp. 34-40

Her second child Joshua will shout out “No, no, no!” in his sleep and she will hear him from her workroom. She will turn immediately from her sewing machine, from the bolts of bright cloth and the fat spools of thread that surround her. Afternoon light will slant crazily through the windows. When she gets to ...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 41

He lies with the girl in the dim light just after dawn. It is a single bed. She lies on her right side, facing the wall, away from him. He lies on his right side too, as close to her as he can get without touching. He reaches out and caresses her left shoulder with the fingertips of his left hand. Outside, it has been snowing ...

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The Last Cigarette

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pp. 42-50

Marjane Satrapi stubs out a Gauloise and lights up another and pulls on it eagerly. In Paris, she can smoke anywhere and if they ban it here she will fucking move to any country that still allows it. If they ban it in all the countries she will move to the ice cap and sit there and smoke all day, alone. She will never ever ...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 51

He lived with his wife once in a sprawling three-story house on Caplewood Drive. They rented the ground floor. They slept in a room at the back of the house that jutted out of the house precariously, and overlooked the steep slope of a ravine choked with kudzu, the huge trees strewn with green. The room sagged ...

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Jenny, with Bulldog

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pp. 52-68

In the end, Jenny Cantwell was left alone with a dog. He was a white bulldog, and a dwarf, the product of severe in-breeding. She’d felt lonely one Sunday after dinner in Chase with her sons Cooper and Hawthorne, and on the way home she’d seen a sign on the highway that said BULLDOGS FIVE MILES. At the ...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 69

He walks beside the canal with his wife. Their baby girl is in a backpack on his back, facing forward. Every now and then she pats his head. He checks her with a compact mirror. His wife holds the dog on the leash. It is a Sunday afternoon. He is tired from too much coffee and too many papers to grade. They pass couples, young and old, and families. He practices making eye ...

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The Real Mother's Song

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pp. 70-76

“Win, win, win, win, win, win, win!!” was the incessant cry of our stepmother Sophie. It was the command that drove our household. She was a slight woman with a turned-up nose and a perky hairdo and the figure of a former Miss Alabama, which she was. She smoked Salems from dawn to dusk. We thought we could outlast her because of that, we thought that cancer ...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 77

In the dark before morning the baby is crying. Odd corners of the house are lit with the orange glow of nightlights, fluorescent clocks, the switches on power strips. He drifts, unmoored, down the hall to the baby’s room. Sleeplessness has imbued his world with a surreal shiver. He picks the baby up from her crib, and ...

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The Corrupter of Words

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pp. 78-87

Settle, then. Fluff your head-clouds. Wrap yourselves in your sun-skins. I will tell you what you want to know, because you have asked. What I have to say has always been awful, and I have always said it, and it has always really been about saying. And so I will tell you: why you are here, why words are what they are, and why we speak. ...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 88

The grass grows long, goes to seed. Wildflowers sprawl. Trees fall. Rot. Saplings jostle across the grass-strewn hills. Moss uncurls. The world shifts and sighs, a restless sleeper tossing. ...

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The Age of Being

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pp. 89-109

Out in the high grass the two girls were, Nay and Carrie, hidden in the secret part, the smooshed-down place they thought no one would ever find, the hot high sky bright blue above them and the dry grass taller than them, rustling and whispery, yellowy brown. Out in the high grass they lay on their backs, their feet ...

Praise Pages

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E-ISBN-13: 9781574414448
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574413199

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

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Subject Headings

  • Old age -- Fiction.
  • Dysfunctional families -- Fiction.
  • Mortality -- Fiction.
  • Short stories. -- gsafd.
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