Plain of Jars

Plain of Jars: and Other Stories

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Plain of Jars
    Book Description:

    In the opening story of Geary Hobson's riveting new collection,Plain of Jars, a young private confides to his friend that he's trying to leave the Marine Corps. "I am not doing this just because I find the Marine Corps too tough," Warren Needham says, but because violence is contradictory to his faith. The story's surprising climax, however, reveals a different side of Needham's contradictory nature. It's this acute understanding of conflict that characterizesPlain of Jars, a book populated by bullies, men in combat, abusive spouses, and Native Americans seeking a sense of personal identity in an environment where conformity is law. The U.S. Marine Corps sets the stage for a number of these stories, whose protagonists combat racism, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and the looming reality of the Vietnam War. With pitch perfect dialogue and a sense of the unexpected,Plain of Jarstests the depths of complex lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-034-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Go Little Stories
    (pp. ix-2)

    Some twenty years ago, when I read Katherine Anne Porter’s introduction, “Go Little Book … ,” to herCollected Stories, I learned what I consider a valuable lesson about the craft of fiction-writing, but I didn’t fully realize it at the time. At the end of her essay, Porter implores the reader to not call her three short novels—Pale Horse, Pale Rider; Old Mortality; andNoon Wine—“novelettes, or even worse, novellas,” but instead call them quite simply and most exactly what she maintained them to be: short novels. Her argument for spurning the categories of novelette and novella...

  5. The C.O.
    (pp. 3-10)

    There was a slight sea breeze blowing in from the bay, sweeping across the tops of the ugly, round-topped Quonset huts. Occasionally, the breeze would kick up sprays of sand from the patches that lay between the huts. The breeze passed low over the Marine Corps base and drifted over the city that lay in the surrounding hills to the north and east. The hills nearest the base were smaller and were dotted with expensive-looking low-topped bungalows. In the sparse areas of the hills, billboards were plastered with advertisements for shiny new cars and real estate offices.

    It was a...

  6. The Odor of Dead Fish
    (pp. 11-24)

    Sometime after midnight, two hours or so after the movie ended, Frank Lawson was still walking the dark, rainswept streets of Oceanside, which were now all but deserted. The shuttle bus that would take him back to the base, and to another week of Marine Corps duty, wasn’t due to arrive until three-thirty, but he didn’t care to spend the time waiting in the bus station. When he had gone to the station after the movie, he had found it crowded with Marines, young men such as himself, on weekend liberty and dreading going back to the base after their...

  7. Shin Splints
    (pp. 25-44)

    Nobody told Rollins that ITR was going to be a hell of a lot tougher than Boot Camp. In fact, all through the twelve weeks of Boot Camp, he’d heard just the opposite—that ITR, while still grueling and hard-going, would be a picnic compared to basic training. Well, Rollins thought, as he sat on his rack conducting his own private Sick Bay call on his extremely painful toe, I’m here to tell you different. ITR is a real back-breaker, “a bitch-bastard of the vastest proportions,” as he’d heard a fellow private say the other day.

    Rollins eased the brown...

  8. Plain of Jars
    (pp. 45-64)

    I’m getting to be an old man now, but the memories of that earlier war now three and even four decades old, I am astonished to discover, are quite easily triggered these days by the constant verbal and visual barrage attending this new one that is on everyone’s lips and on the tube and in the newspapers day in and day out. But four decades are nothing in the memory recesses of the aging, given that we can recall such long ago events as if they had occurred only yesterday, while at the same time being virtually unable to recall...

  9. A Truckload of Dead Babies
    (pp. 65-82)

    Now that I’m shipboard, waiting for the good shipJ. Franklin Bellto proceed with getting me back to the U. S. of A., I find that I’m really bothered by a few things back in Headquarters Company, particularly over the past several days. Despite that, I’m happy as hell to be done with it all. It was a bullshit outfit, no two ways about it. Well, actually, it was pretty good duty for a while there, but then it all got screwed up toward the end of my tour. And it all boils down to the time when that...

  10. Moogerman
    (pp. 83-96)

    Moogerman was holding forth again. He was standing with his back to a wall locker, facing three or four guys in partial stages of undress, his loud abrasive voice carrying as usual throughout the barracks like a radio turned up much too loud for comfort. I noticed Hepworth among the bunch and that he seemed to be hurrying with his dressing, either in an effort to make it to early chow, just as I hoped to do, or more likely, doing his damnedest to get away from Moogerman. I squeezed past the group—the passageway between the racks being very...

  11. Arrowhead
    (pp. 97-108)

    Channing and I had just met, both of us TAD—temporary additional duty—as firefighters in a contingent of Marines drawn from several units at Twenty-Nine Stumps and dispatched to the Lake Arrowhead and San Bernardino Mountains area to assist in putting out “the big one,” as it was being called. The forest fire, by all accounts, had been going strong for almost a week, and the bringing in of Marines, several busloads of us, seemed to mean that the whole thing was quite critical. I was a corporal, a radio man in one of the self-propelled gun units on...

  12. An Attitude of Dignity
    (pp. 109-112)

    The trio on the bandstand was playing a zippy cha-cha number when Carole entered the front door of the cocktail lounge. Scott sat at the bar, watching her reflection in the tinseled bar mirror, which was dotted with cute little Santa Claus cutouts, sprigs of spruce, and imitation snow. He watched her pause at the door as it closed behind her, saw her blink her eyes several times as if to adjust her sight to the darkness and cigarette smoke. She looked around the din of swinging bodies moving rhythmically with the music—he knew she was looking for him....

  13. Creative Writing
    (pp. 113-140)

    Right from the start, Reese Anderson had misgivings about signing up for Dr. Brammell’s class, Creative Writing 251. Such misgivings were not about Dr. Brammell, who, Reese had learned, was a respected historian and the author of a book about American Indian chiefs and their visits to Washington to meet with the various Great White Fathers intent on taking their land. Rather, his uncertainty concerned himself and how taking such a class would, for him, be tantamount to his suddenly and publicly declaring himself a poet. Signing up for the class, he felt, would be just that sort of declaration,...

  14. Standing-In for Fritz Scholder and Yoko Ono
    (pp. 141-156)

    When the Wigwam Club closed at two, it took the parking lot a half hour for all the Indian cars and trucks to clear out, but the word got around that the party was over at Lou Benedict’s house. Armed with a six-pack of Coors, and with a half-pint of Old Crow hidden in the top of the spiffy left cowboy boot of the pair he was sporting, Frank Lawson, out on his own this free-flowing Friday night, easily found his way to Lou Benedict’s place. He’d been there before on similar occasions. He went inside as the small house’s...

  15. A Christmas Story
    (pp. 157-194)

    One cold December morning, after awaking long before the sun came up, Elizabeth began to suspect she was developing heart trouble. At first, she wasn’t actually aware of the small aches as something painful—they were merely vague itches that seemed to inch their way out from her upper chest to the muscles below her left shoulder, almost in the armpit—but that morning, while the wind whipped sharply outside through the shrubbery at the corner of the duplex apartment and rattled the front windows, chilling her as she buttoned the pink sweater over her white waitress uniform, she realized...

  16. Marlene
    (pp. 195-204)

    I guess Frances and I have been going to Okies for about three years now, and in all that time a lot of changes have taken place. For a corner beer joint near the university, that’s saying a lot, since places like Okies generally don’t change at all. We’ve watched it go from being a place once patronized by university students and Indians to a biker bar. Yeah, for a while, when the bikers started coming in and the Wigwam Club opened up—that’s an Indian bar over on North 4th Street—we stopped going to Okies and started going...

  17. Hollow Horn
    (pp. 205-218)

    For months, I’d been hearing that Eldon Hollow Horn was coming to town. He’d been in Europe for the past six to ten years. I don’t know for certain, nor care, how long his stay there had actually been. According to Mark Spively, one of Hollow Horn’s longtime boosters—himself a former poet and literary critic who these days seems to deal only with the personalities of local literary people and actually little at all with their works and who spends his hours reading only tiresomely derivative popular, or “genre,” novels—Hollow Horn was now returning “triumphantly” to the United...

  18. Kyrie Eleison!
    (pp. 219-232)

    It was mid-morning of an Easter Sunday. Church bells tolled from several places around the city; it seemed as if each place of worship was challenging the others for the attention of the people. In the center of the city, in Pershing Square, the bells lost their vested authority, the peals muffled by the new spring greenery. An island detached from the city, the park seemed a sanctuary from the metropolitan hurly-burly beyond its boundaries. Rain had fallen the night before, and now the sun’s rays shining on the damp grass made a thousand tiny prisms that sparkled like drops...

  19. Live Coverage of the Induction Ceremonies at the Inauguration of the Serial Killers Hall of Fame
    (pp. 233-245)

    Good evening, fans from all across America. I’m Harv Flippin, along with Buzz Brinkley, coming to you live from the Christopher Wilder Auditorium in beautiful Pompano Beach, Florida, bringing you the entire program of the induction ceremonies for the inauguration of the Serial Killers Hall of Fame. This is truly,truly, an auspicious occasion. The air is simply crackling with excitement, with tension, and now, just minutes away from the opening ceremonies, people are still filing into the auditorium. I believe it can truly be said, Buzz, that we are witnessing history in the making.”

    “No doubt about it, Harv....