A Brief History of Male Nudes in America
Dianne Nelson Oberhansly
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In these stories, Dianne Nelson illuminates that vast territory of pleasure and pain created within modern families. Whether it is a father trying to kidnap his young son from his estranged ex-wife or a woman celebrating her ability to produce babies without any help from men, Nelson's characters reveal the dark, haunting and sometimes comic dilemmas of kinship.
In the title story, seventeen-year-old April is an involuntary witness to the seemingly endless parade of lovers who frequent her mother's bed. "I don't know why my mother finds no lasting peace" she muses. Opening a book and trying to find her peace in "facts, dates, the pure honesty of numbers," April is overwhelmed finally by the sounds of lovemaking from the adjoining room. "The walls of this house aren't thick enough to keep that kind of sadness contained." In "The Uses of Memory," Netta and Carlene are engaged in a different sort of mother-daughter drama. The issue at hand is the fate of Franklin, their husband and father, who lies in bed in a near comatose state, oblivious to the nurturings or pleadings of either woman.
The past, with its countless repercussion on the present, tugs relentlessly at many of the characters. In "Chocolate," the lingering pain of an impoverished childhood plagues Janice; she recalls, in particular, the birthday and Christmas celebrations, the meager gifts wrapped in the same brown twine that was used to hold the door shut. Hillary, the narrator of "Dixon," is spurred into action by the memory of her dead brother. When a local barfly with "silt for brains" persists in telling outlandish lies about Dixon, Hillary takes up karate training with an eye to defending her brother's name the truth of what she knew him to be. Dee, in "Paperweight," can pinpoint the exact moment at which she came to think of the body as an earthbound trap, "a hopeless house with the doors all locked"; she traces it back to a grade-school theatrical performance and a classmate's luckless efforts to open the cumbersome stage curtains. "If it weren't for my body," she laments, "I could fly, I could go anywhere, I could be anything."
Ranging in setting from a restaurant in St. Louis to the rain-soaked streets of San Francisco, from a boisterous family reunion beneath the broad Kansas sky to a ranch in Utah where a young father dreams of becoming a movie star, these fifteen stories show men and women pondering—and often struggling against—the mysteries of their own circumstances, especially the bonds of flesh and blood.
thirteen-year-old beginners, but I don’t care. There is a certain satisfaction I get in towering over all of my classmates. And my karate shout is the strongest one in this class. I’m not like some of the people in this town who have grown radar ears, but I do hear things. Eleanor Goodway, one of my mother’s oldest friends, came into my insurance office the other day. I was surprised because she has both term and whole life policies up to her ears, but she was there for a different reason.
ready for a party whenever you are.” Lorna didn’t want to see Dorsey’s cow, though we told her it was a once-in-a-lifetime. “It moves,” Bruce told her, “it dances under ice,” but we couldn’t convince her to take the ride to Shepherd’s Hill. She wrinkled her nose and looked sideways at us. “I’m worried about you two,” she said. “Yeah, I know what you mean,” I told Lorna. “I’ve been worried about your dad for a while,” I said, tapping the side of my head, crossing my eyes. “Huh,” Bruce said and
and older. Maize never knew any other way to live but like this: on tightropes or where she found easy passage into others’ lives. Whether what she had was borrowed, stolen, or given recklessly to her in darkness or over a bottle of booze or out of some weak, twisted passion, Maize made the most of everything. She spent big and looked good. And when the money ran out, as it often did in those days because there was a cycle to it all—getting and spending and laying waste—she fell and fell hard.
Brief History of Male Nudes in America Christopher Mcllroy All My Relations Alyce Miller, The Nature of Longing Carol Lee Lorenzo, Nervous Dancer C. M. Mayo, Shy over El Nido Wendy Brenner, Large Animals in Everyday Life Paul Rawlins, No Lie Like Love Harvey Grossinger, The Quarry Ha Jin, Under the Red Flag Andy Plattner, Winter Money Frank Soos, Unified Field Theory Mary Clyde, Survival Rates Hester Kaplan, The Edge of Marriage Darrell Spencer, CAUTION Men in Trees Robert Anderson,
sorghum and foot-high corn whipping by in a sweet fast-forward. The rural premise here is to get where you’re going. Their windshields fill with the delicate blue and yellow and black of early morning swarms. Almost always there is a baby crying from the back seat and almost always one of my aunts or cousins will turn around from the front seat with a bottle or a Tootsie Pop or a half-serious warning or begin to tiredly open up her blouse. My relatives travel the prairies at the speed of light to