Maggie Brown & Others: Stories by Peter Orner
English | 2019 | General Fiction | ePUB | 1.3 Mb
Maggie Brown : In this powerful and virtuosic collection of interlocking stories, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist takes the form to new heights.
In his orchestral and moving new book, Peter Orner, a writer who “doesn’t simply bring his characters to life, he gives them souls” (New York Times Book Review), chronicles people whose lives are at inflection points. In forty-four compressed gems, he grips us with a series of defining moments. Whether it’s a first date that turns into a late-night road trip to a séance in an abandoned airplane hangar, or a family’s memories of the painful mystery surrounding a forgotten uncle’s demise, Orner reveals how our fleeting decisions between kindness and abandonment chase us across time. These stories are anchored by a poignant novella that delivers not only the joys and travails of a forty-year marriage, but an entire era in small-town New England.
“Kidnap a kid,” Bobbie said. “Like Lindbergh’s baby. Lindbergh was a horse’s ass, but he didn’t deserve that, or at least that little boy didn’t. You ever see his picture? The little blond boy with the fat face? I said, ‘Papa, I love you with all I’ve got left, but I’m not a kidnapper, I don’t even have a ladder.’”
I laughed. Bobbie looked across the street at the bar, which was still closed. There were some mornings, for Bobbie, when getting from eight forty-five to nine took more than an hour.
Eventually they dropped the charges. Her mother, the concert pianist, had left her estate to Bobbie, so while it was still technically theft because the mother was absolutely still alive, the DA in San Rafael probably decided that a jury might not convict, given that the money would be Bobbie’s soon enough anyway. It wasn’t good precedent, but you had to pick your battles. And as far as the town felt, most people thought, Why shouldn’t Bobbie have the money and not the far-bigger thief in this case, the nursing home? Bobbie didn’t gloat. She’d sit in the park in the morning like she always did and try not to look at Smiley’s. She started to read the paper again. She never bought her own. She’d ask to look at mine because the last thing Bobbie would do would be to walk into John’s and buy her own paper. Another morning, a couple of months after her mother died—so we all knew that she was either flush with cash, or at least would be soon—Bobbie told me, without preface, “She always thought her hands were ugly, that they were too plump. That’s why my mother played Bach so fast, not that anybody could see them that far away in the dark.”