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Greg Mulcahy

Publication Year: 2010

Inhabiting a world that offers no guarantee of any veracity, the characters in these peculiar stories are driven to and goaded by compulsive and perhaps pointless reflection. They are haunted by unrelenting consciousness and knowledge of failure, yet are, at best, ambivalent toward any conventional equation of success. Theirs is a world of broken relationships, futile memory, constant appetite, and the certain knowledge that they are winding down in a culture in which it is impossible to do—or know—the right thing. Frustrated and obsessed, they cannot articulate their lives and are entranced by the strangeness of the everyday. Written with keen intelligence and biting humor, Carbine is a book about the ridiculousness of contemporary life—a book about what cannot be said.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Series: Juniper Prize for Fiction

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-7

There was a theoretical problem, not that he thought it would go beyond theory, not in his case, in others’ cases, sure, for them the theoretical was real, but what was so odd about that, for after all, if one thought about it, was not every theoretical problem based in the real, or, to take it further, ...

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pp. 8-10

There was smoke and the fucking thing went off and he had to disconnect it and he broke it. Poor fucking design, that’s what kept them selling. The little plastic hooks the housing hung from got soft and failed as anyone could see they would. A fifteen-cent latch a far superior mechanism but then they would not break ...

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pp. 11-17

While all of this was going on, meanwhile, somebody somewhere was reinventing the notion of music. Then, he was doing the best he could under what seemed like impossible circumstances. Now, he had a catalog of sexual practice, but no one wanted to hear about that anymore. He knew he had his devils. ...


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pp. 18-24

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My 40th Birthday Party

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pp. 25-28

I am a big man, six feet two, 220 pounds, and while not the giant I aspired to be, big enough to be thankful for my height and girth. At work, people often greet me by calling me big guy or chief. I leave it to you to decide if a smaller, neater man, a man who did not bump into things with his large feet ...

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pp. 29-30

Maybe if she would spare him the doxology. Start there he would tell her. Spare him and spoil what? Tell her he could not be more pleased if he had received a postcard that said Fuck You. Because there were some things she did not know. The social order and the end of privacy for example. ...

The Bottle Game

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pp. 31-33

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pp. 34-35

One day he would throw his shoes away and they would be gone. That was one message. And a crow is black. And there are those healthy men who heartily eat big dinners and something sticks somewhere and cough, cough, cough, they’re dead. That fellow who retched, choked, vomited, and died. ...

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pp. 36-38

But it was an empty threat, and both of them knew it although he was reluctant to believe it. The way she did things, said things, in particular, so casually, so off-handedly. All of this, he was sure, had started much earlier. For example, the invitation from his work to the holiday party said his name and companion. ...

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Catch and Release

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pp. 39-43

It was the pin prick prick. Sometimes his knee, sometimes his side. Or his abdomen, though there not so sharply. He knew it was nothing, but he was afraid. He was afraid because he thought he had heard, or maybe read, somewhere, that there was a horrible neurological disease that usually began in middle age ...


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pp. 44-45


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pp. 46-48

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pp. 49-55

Of course he had always wanted to go out West, to drive through the West and see all of the West he had seen in movies and pictures and television programs, for he was, after all, an American, and it seemed, along with his desire, it was almost his obligation to at least want to see the West, ...

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pp. 56-59

He had a picture of himself and his wife at Graceland. The staff photographed the tourists as the tourists went in. At the end of the tour, he’d had the option of buying the photograph. Photographs. There were, he thought, various packages. ...


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pp. 60-61


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pp. 62-63

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pp. 64-68

Some said he never was a doctor. My brother, now this was my own brother, claimed one October to have seen him driving a truck—a flatbed, I believe it was, with wooden cattle corralling around the bed—a truck filled with ripe orange pumpkins. ...

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pp. 69-72

I am a man who wears three coats, although I only wear all three at the same time when it’s really cold. I have a hooded sweatshirt, a vest filled with some insulating material, and a shapeless cotton shell called, I believe, a chore coat. A chore coat they call it, as though I were a farmer, as though I spent a part of my day, ...

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Architecture of the French Novel

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pp. 73-97

Sunday afternoon in September, rain and the wood piled in the yard black in the rain. Not far, in the center of the city, were several well-known pieces of public art, so many and so well known, the city was sometimes known as the City of Public Art although he was not persuaded the sobriquet was not the result of a civic campaign ...

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pp. 98-101

He had to tell himself something. He felt if he did not tell something to himself, he could not get up and go on and do the things he needed to do, the basic things he had to do, like get in his car and drive to work. She had gone, and when she had gone, she said she would never speak to him again. ...


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pp. 102-103


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pp. 104-107


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pp. 108-110

The Hungarian Writer

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pp. 111

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pp. 112-116

In the lobby. Some kind of hanger-out and where was security or was there no security? Besides, Bill did not know what the guy was talking about. He stepped back. Sometimes he felt like he was going up in an elevator. ...


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pp. 117

The Descent of Value

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pp. 118-120

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pp. 121-124

It was not him. It was some other man. In his house, a clock had been a precious thing. Almost every thing was a precious thing. His blanket. A thin, worn blanket worn nearly through when it came to him. Often he’d read, in those days, of prisoners with their thin blankets. And he identified with them, with his. ...

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pp. 125-131

She wore a red dress that looked like it was made of silk, but he was sure the dress was not made of silk. The silky dress clung to her, and he noticed how she moved in it. Every movement seemed to him to hold a great significance, a heavy and beautiful sexual promise. He knew her, and he felt— really felt ...


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pp. 132

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pp. 133-136

He smoked the kind of cigarette that killed you—the strongest one in the world. How could this document, apparently entitled “How to Make a Martial Arts Porno Movie,” have come to him? It seemed more a polemic expressing the need for such a film than a guide to making it. On the cigarette box, unironically, there was a picture of a sailor. ...

Museum Piece

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pp. 137-138


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pp. 139


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pp. 140-141


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pp. 142-144


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pp. 145-147


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pp. 148

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pp. 149-151

He’d heard that the flowers replied; he knew about the sad geraniums, and he was not thinking of them, nor the tree of light, nor that scene in the porn film that had so impressed him as a young man. None of those storied images seemed important or even relevant to his situation. ...


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pp. 152-157

Picture Show

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pp. 158-180


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pp. 181-182

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613760314
E-ISBN-10: 1613760310
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558498181
Print-ISBN-10: 1558498184

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Juniper Prize for Fiction

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