Tell Me Who We Were: Stories by Kate McQuade

1 point
Tell Me Who We

Tell Me Who We Were: Stories by Kate McQuade
English | 2019 | General Fiction | ePUB |767 Kb

Tell Me Who We : Infused with the keen insight of Joyce Carol Oates and haunting power of Kelly Link, a radiant collection of linked stories that explore the vulnerability, resilience, and hidden desires of women, following six girls over the course of sixty years, from their first semester at boarding school to the twilight of their lives.

It begins with a drowning. One day Mr. Arcilla, the romance language teacher at Briarfield, an all-girls boarding school, is found dead at the bottom of Reed Pond. Young and handsome, the object of much fantasy and fascination, he was adored by his students. For Lilith and Romy, Evie and Claire, Nellie and Grace, he was their first love, and their first true loss.

In this extraordinary collection, Kate McQuade explores the ripple effect of one transformative moment on six lives, witnessed at a different point in each girl’s future. Throughout these stories, these bright, imaginative, and ambitious girls mature into women, lose touch and call in favors, achieve success and endure betrayal, marry and divorce, have children and struggle with infertility, abandon husbands and remain loyal to the end.

Lyrical, intimate, and incisive, Tell Me Who We Were explores the inner worlds of girls and women, the relationships we cherish and betray, and the transformations we undergo in the simple act of living.

“I shouldn’t have told you.” Lilith’s hands were stretched above her, working out the snags, and we could see the scars she never wanted to talk about—pale, parallel hatch marks in a row along the inner arm, ghosty lines tallying up so many things we didn’t know about her. Sometimes she ran her fingers slowly up and down the row, and you could almost hear the sensation of skin against skin, like the high thrum of a delicate xylophone. “I don’t know why you all keep asking. It’s not like I can teach you how to do it.” Her voice was tired, a little impatient, but even then we didn’t believe she disliked the attention. We were old enough to know how good it felt, and to see it in another.

“Try,” we said.

Her hands stopped in her hair, eyes closed. She pulled her arms down and folded them across her chest—tanned skin, thin wrists, tawny knot. “It’s more like hearing the sense of something,” she said. “Not the literal words, just the idea of them. Like an unwritten letter. Like that feeling when something’s right on the tip of your tongue. I’ll be holding a rock, about to skip it over the pond, and I’ll sense his voice in my hand—like, This is it, I know it. And there it goes, twenty skips in a row. Or maybe the rock feels more like, Not this time, babe. And it sinks before I even try. Sometimes when we’re sitting in chapel, I stick my gum under the pew and all of a sudden I know he saw me. He makes me feel it somehow, even if I don’t hear the words exactly.”


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