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Plain of Jars and Other Stories

Geary Hobson

Publication Year: 2011

In the opening story of Geary Hobson’s riveting new collection, Plain of Jars, a young private confides to his friend that he’s trying to leave the Marine Corps. “I am not doing this just because I find the Marine Corps too tough,” Warren Needham says, but because violence is contradictory to his faith. The story’s surprising climax, however, reveals a different side of Needham’s contradictory nature. It’s this acute understanding of conflict that characterizes Plain of Jars, a book populated by bullies, men in combat, abusive spouses, and Native Americans seeking a sense of personal identity in an environment where conformity is law. The U.S. Marine Corps sets the stage for a number of these stories, whose protagonists combat racism, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and the looming reality of the Vietnam War. With pitch perfect dialogue and a sense of the unexpected, Plain of Jars tests the depths of complex lives.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. i

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pp. vii

Some of the stories in this book have appeared in the following places: “Th e C.O.,” in A: A Journal of Contemporary Literature; “Th e Odor of Dead Fish,” in Aniyunwiya/Real Human Beings: An Anthology of Cherokee Literature; “Shin Splints,” in Working Clans Indigenous (tentative title), edited by Allison Hedge Coke; “An Attitude of Dignity,” in New America; “Standing-In for Fritz ...

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Introduction: Go Little Stories

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pp. ix-xii

Some twenty years ago, when I read Katherine Anne Porter’s introduction, “Go Little Book . . . ,” to her Collected Stories, I learned what I consider a valuable lesson about the craft of fiction-writing, but I didn’t fully realize it at the time. At the end of her essay, Porter implores the reader to not call her three short novels—Pale Horse, Pale Rider; Old Mortality; and Noon Wine—“novelettes, ...

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The C.O.

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pp. 3-10

There was a slight sea breeze blowing in from the bay, sweeping across the tops of the ugly, round-topped Quonset huts. Occasionally, the breeze would kick up sprays of sand from the patches that lay between the huts. The breeze passed low over the Marine Corps base and drift ed over the city that lay in the surrounding hills to the north and east. The hills nearest the base were smaller and were dotted with expensive-looking low-topped bungalows. In the sparse ...

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The Odor of Dead Fish

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pp. 11-24

Sometime aft er midnight, two hours or so aft er the movie ended, Frank Lawson was still walking the dark, rainswept streets of Oceanside, which were now all but deserted. The shuttle bus that would take him back to the base, and to another week of Marine Corps duty, wasn’t due to arrive until three-thirty, but he didn’t care to spend the time waiting in the bus station. When he had ...

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Shin Splints

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pp. 25-44

Nobody told Rollins that ITR was going to be a hell of a lot tougher than Boot Camp. In fact, all through the twelve weeks of Boot Camp, he’d heard just the opposite—that ITR, while still grueling and hard-going, would be a picnic compared to basic training. Well, Rollins thought, as he sat on his rack conducting his own private Sick Bay call on his extremely painful toe, I’m here ...

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Plain of Jars

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pp. 45-64

I’m getting to be an old man now, but the memories of that earlier war now three and even four decades old, I am astonished to discover, are quite easily triggered these days by the constant verbal and visual barrage attending this new one that is on everyone’s lips and on the tube and in the newspapers day in and day out. But four decades are nothing in the memory recesses of the aging, given ...

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A Truckload of Dead Babies

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pp. 65-82

Now that I’m shipboard, waiting for the good ship J. Franklin Bell to proceed with getting me back to the U.S. of A., I find that I’m really bothered by a few things back in Headquarters Company, particularly over the past several days. Despite that, I’m happy as hell to be done with it all. It was a bullshit outfit, no two ways about it. Well, actually, it was pretty good duty for a while there, but ...

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pp. 83-96

Moogerman was holding forth again. He was standing with his back to a wall locker, facing three or four guys in partial stages of undress, his loud abrasive voice carrying as usual throughout the barracks like a radio turned up much too loud for comfort. I noticed Hepworth among the bunch and that he seemed to be hurrying with his dressing, either in an effort to make it to early ...

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An Attitude of Dignity

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pp. 109-112

The trio on the bandstand was playing a zippy cha-cha number when Carole entered the front door of the cocktail lounge. Scott sat at the bar, watching her reflection in the tinseled bar mirror, which was dotted with cute little Santa Claus cutouts, sprigs of spruce, and imitation snow. He watched her pause at the door as it closed behind her, saw her blink her eyes several times as if to ...

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Creative Writing

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pp. 113-140

Right from the start, Reese Anderson had misgivings about signing up for Dr. Brammell’s class, Creative Writing 251. Such misgivings were not about Dr. Brammell, who, Reese had learned, was a respected historian and the author of a book about American Indian chiefs and their visits to Washington to meet with the various Great White Fathers intent on taking their land. Rather, his ...

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Standing-In for Fritz Scholder and Yoko Ono

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pp. 141-156

When the Wigwam Club closed at two, it took the parking lot a half hour for all the Indian cars and trucks to clear out, but the word got around that the party was over at Lou Benedict’s house. Armed with a six-pack of Coors, and with a half-pint of Old Crow hidden in the top of the spiffy left cowboy boot of the pair he was sporting, Frank Lawson, out on his own this free-flowing

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A Christmas Story

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pp. 157-194

One cold December morning, aft er awaking long before the sun came up, Elizabeth began to suspect she was developing heart trouble. At first, she wasn’t actually aware of the small aches as something painful—they were merely vague itches that seemed to inch their way out from her upper chest to the muscles below her left shoulder, almost in the armpit—but that morning, while the wind ...

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pp. 195-204

I guess Frances and I have been going to Okies for about three years now, and in all that time a lot of changes have taken place. For a corner beer joint near the university, that’s saying a lot, since places like Okies generally don’t change at all. We’ve watched it go from being a place once patronized by university students and Indians to a biker bar. Yeah, for a while, when the bikers started ...

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Hollow Horn

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pp. 205-218

For months, I’d been hearing that Eldon Hollow Horn was coming to town. He’d been in Europe for the past six to ten years. I don’t know for certain, nor care, how long his stay there had actually been. According to Mark Spively, one of Hollow Horn’s longtime boosters—himself a former poet and literary critic who these days seems to deal only with the personalities of local literary ...

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Kyrie Eleison!

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pp. 219-232

It was mid-morning of an Easter Sunday. Church bells tolled from several places around the city; it seemed as if each place of worship was challenging the others for the attention of the people. In the center of the city, in Pershing Square, the bells lost their vested authority, the peals muffled by the new spring greenery. An island detached from the city, the park seemed a sanctuary from ...

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Live Coverage of the Induction Ceremonies at the Inauguration of the Serial Killers Hall of Fame

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pp. 233-260

Good evening, fans from all across America. I’m Harv Flippin, along with Buzz Brinkley, coming to you live from the Christopher Wilder Auditorium in beautiful Pompano Beach, Florida, bringing you the entire program of the induction ceremonies for the inauguration of the Serial Killers Hall of Fame. Th is is truly, truly, an auspicious occasion. The air is simply crackling with excitement, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781609170349
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870139987

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2011