Publication Year: 1996
In Crazy Water: Six Fictions, Lori Baker pushes the boundaries between truth and reality with curious, tragi-comic results. The imagination is Baker's terrain, and in these stories, pleasant suburban childhoods, family drives, seaside vacations, and an academic's quest for tenure all are strangely warped, yet nonetheless still mirror a world we thought we knew. In these brief pages, boys become dogs, students hide in the molluscan places, and mothers do their best to rescind their unsatisfying children.
"I say things smugly as if I understand them, muses one of Baker's narrators. Indeed, characters and readers alike are undermined in these deft and quirky fictions. Exposing and imploding all of our expectations, Baker shows us how menacing (and funny) the apparently ordinary can be.
Published by: NYU Press
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My good friend Grace grew up in a shadowy house on a suburban street as clean and brilliant and shadowless as a razor blade. On most afternoons, Grace in her pink dress was the only ellipse in a Mondrian of perfectly planed white fences advancing to curbs stiffer than hospital beds and hedges marching like evergreen soldiers around carefully researched borders. Although she might have held a ball or a jump rope or a plastic truck, play...
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Where were they when it started? Nobody knows anymore, nobody cares. Elspeth and Sabina were fighting in the back seat, Pearl's shoulders in the paisley blouse were stiff and straight in the front seat, Daddy behind the steering wheel seemed unimportant to all of them, except that the smoke from his cigarette was giving Pearl a headache ...
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It rains because it must; and because I must, I watch them, these two women. I do not yet understand where one begins and the other ends, for they are as alike as two swans leashed with a golden chain. Graceful pale heads bent together, they are always whispering secrets. Because the sky is so darkly oppressive, their blond hair seems more bright, more mocking. From my window I see them...
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It was only noon, and already Stephen and Laura had been lost six times. They laughed about it, decided they were good at it, then realized, bookishly, that it was a sort of metaphor for their lives. Outside their windows, Connecticut rolled by in fecund puffs of green that blocked out incidentals, like road and sky; their bright small landscape ...
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Something's wrong, she said to him. With the children, she said. Yours, she said, and mine. Very wrong. What did he do? He rattled the newspaper. He always held the newspaper with the business pages facing out. He rattled it and moved his feet a little bit.facing out. He rattled it and moved his feet a little bit. Moved his feet in those brown slippers, while sitting in his brown chair...
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Much to our dismay, she's moved in right beneath us: Mother-in-Law, jingling like a dime beneath our feet. All night long we can hear her through the floorboards: jingle, jingle, jingle,—"that's Mother-in-Law," we say, "unpacking her twelve scarlet suitcases with their twelve silver buckles, her thirteen tiny hatboxes with their clasps of precious...
Page Count: 206
Publication Year: 1996