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Bring Everybody


Dwight Yates

Publication Year: 2006

In this exhilarating collection of stories, Dwight Yates delivers the range of characters suggested in the title, many of them struggling to salvage situations they feel have been thrust upon them. Yet the smoking gun that accounts for the hole in the foot, is, more often than not, in the hand of the protagonist complaining of the pain. Self-delusion courts self-destruction in these stories, but not without relief, since revelation is always possible and redemption just might come tumbling after. Though the stakes are sometimes low and the circumstances more rueful than tragic, Yates illuminates the gulf between expectation and reality with humor and compassion. Seduction does not inevitably lead to abandonment in these tales, although that is certainly one outcome. A disastrous young marriage is another. In one case, a seducer comes to see that a chance encounter with an old flame has not closed an incomplete narrative from the past, but most likely has opened a perilous new chapter. Other stories investigate dormant dread awakened by the hiccup of circumstance. A family man's decision to stop and assist a stalled motorist does not imperil his family as his wife fears. Yet the encounter reveals a burden of faith and guilt that continues to haunt this Samaritan and prompts his irrational, yet perhaps admirable, behavior. In another family tale, a father struggles with the imminent independence of his daughter, a struggle that, like much in his life, is distorted by his curious infatuation with the insomnia afflicting him. The collection's final piece concerns an aging, retired accountant who, stricken with intimations of mortality, hastily attempts to become well loved and eventually handsomely eulogized by undertaking good works, an undertaking he persists in pursuing against mounting odds. Men and women tell many of their own stories here. In other outings, the telling rests with bemused and attentive narrators, crowding in close, better to witness the charm and folly of the memorable characters assembled in this prize-winning collection.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Series: Juniper Prize for Fiction

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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“A Certain Samaritan” originally appeared in North Dakota Review, “Gophers” (formerly titled “Animal Wrongs”) in Between the Species, “Reading Erica Jong” in Hotel Amerika, and “Twenty-two Flamingos” in Northwest Review. ...

Table of Contents

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Chapter 1 - The Black Mercedes

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pp. 1-9

The call came at six p.m. I was in the study patching up this Mayan fertility thing with Epoxy Plus. “Arthur?” Just that one word on the phone at first, the name drawn out with a rising inflection, but not without effort. Such a rickety-rusty voice. I explained that Arthur and his wife were on vacation, told the caller ...

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Chapter 2 - A Certain Samaritan

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pp. 10-19

Billy Stengel’s daughters are asleep in their car seats, Jill sitting beside him up front, explaining how to rearrange the living room, get the sofa away from the window so that something more dramatic can be done with that spot. Billy listens but hears mainly the music in his head happily pumping as she repositions ...

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Chapter 3 - Gophers

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pp. 20-30

Just one of the details Violet remembered: nobody on the animal rights panel wore leather shoes. She had easily noticed their feet, the panelists seated behind a folding table on a low stage. One of the men was actually wearing plastic sandals over socks, if you can imagine. That was the gentleman from back East who ...

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Chapter 4 - The Paisley Arms

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pp. 31-42

No microwave in the time-warp apartment, but how charming, this ancient hot plate complementing a like-vintage, small refrigerator, humming in its dotage. In a bad light, but a hopeful mood, I continue the tour, regard the faded elegance: walls wainscoted in ascension to high ceilings, a cherry wood armoire, small ...

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Chapter 5 - Buster

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pp. 43-55

The second time my brother Buster’s life flopped, he positioned himself by the on ramp to the interstate, hoisting a thumb and a hand-lettered, felt-tip sign reading “Now Accepting Rides.” Buster had just lost everything to the lawyers of the second wife whose calumnious family, adding insult to penury, gang-tagged him with invective, tattooed him with slander. Yet he maintained ...

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Chapter 6 - The Sleep Machine

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pp. 56-72

It was the summer following the summer of the overwhelming fires, a summer when the fires merely whelmed as usual, Southern California’s smog smudged with extra particulate as the ash rode the thermals, July giving way to August, Le Tour de France moving aside for Le Tour de Democrats, then Olympians, finally Republicans. June, as hoped, had been cool, marine air advancing on our inland valley every evening and malingering until ...

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Chapter 7 - Oceanside, 1985

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pp. 73-83

Lucinda, how very pregnant, wades into the Pacific, ankle deep and then some. She’d like to float straight out there, so far, and be whale-watched by cetologists. “You big, blue ocean,” she says, and the addressed ocean splashes her, a dialogue of sorts, conducted as a paprika sun pinkens, slips, dissolves. No green tonight. Some ...

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Chapter 8 - Gisela

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pp. 84-94

So what’s to be done about a wayward wife, hitherto faithful and such a brick for twenty-one years, not to mention nurturer of two college-settled sons, one even in the Ivy League? What to do now that the midlife mess-up I was priding myself on avoiding afflicts her instead, as, my God, I should have expected in this day of gender equity but had acknowledged only in theory, in stats, but ...

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Chapter 9 - Twenty-two Flamingos

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pp. 95-102

Beryl is often blue, considering letting it all slide, jettisoning her principles as she did the grapefruit diet. She looks at the neighborhood, how it hangs there, like cellulite on the civic body, a place to make you think that, very locally, entropy has speeded up. What sorts out as a yard sale elsewhere is, in these streets, a family’s things more or less spread. Nothing for sale but nearly everything ...

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Chapter 10 - Persimmons

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pp. 103-109

Ernie Vesuvio climbs to his carport roof from a stepladder, boosting with his arms before swinging a leg up and over. But his springing from the aluminum ladder tips it, leaving one foot to flail the autumn air. That cartoonish motion, or the clattering of the ladder on the patio bricks, startles a scrub jay from the persimmon tree, and Ernie, now flush with the roof, watches this bird flap westward. He pulls up to his knees, turns about, peers down. The ...

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Chapter 11 - Reading Erica Jong

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pp. 110-116

Joey Carbone is staring out the window, squinting, relaxing the squint, squinting another one. “It come outta nowhere,” he says, not turning from the window he leans into, the sill supporting his elbows, like the window was cut in the wall to suit him personally, Joey Carbone. ...

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Chapter 12 - Cartography

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pp. 117-128

Raymond Kiefer sits in back but with a view of the panelists. He’s watching the speaker, a woman who has to be Trish, despite some changes, a few of them arguably attractive. The way she used to fidget her hands, there’s only a bit of that left, and it works into effective gesture. The unruly hair she complained of appears disciplined now but still thick, some honest gray to it—not that anyone ...

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Chapter 13 - Bring Everyody

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pp. 129-143

When two of Leonard Dirkson’s friends died within three months of each other—his only two friends, he told himself— Leonard began looking to his own mortality with moderate urgency, even while recognizing the predictability of such a reaction. His medical checkup argued for increasing dietary fiber and drinking more water while cutting back on coffee and martinis. He resolved to give it a try, although considering ...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761793
E-ISBN-10: 1613761791
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558495258
Print-ISBN-10: 1558495258

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Juniper Prize for Fiction