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Crazy Water: Six Fictions

Lori Baker
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 206
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qg31m
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  • Book Info
    Crazy Water
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2332-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Grace
    (pp. 3-34)

    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 was a mystery to Grace, for she was dedicated to the sanctity of her dress. Wrinkles and dirt were forbidden, and Mother, peering...

  5. The Drive
    (pp. 37-60)

    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 she thought she would never forgive him for. Lots of stuff was passing by outside the windows: crowded trees with blood-red tops and slim black trunks, clear crooning streams distilled through granite-pebbled banks, soft mountains with their tops buried moodily in cloud. But...

  6. Crazy Water (Fragments of a Vacation)
    (pp. 63-88)

    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 leave the hotel every morning, holding up a blue umbrella that glistens wetly in the rain. Their hair is the brilliant color of hay; when I look down from...

  7. Tenure Track
    (pp. 91-126)

    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 included only the fertile leaves, a scattering of maps, the steering wheel, and their tanned affectionate knees, jousting playfully for space beneath the dashboard.

    Laura had spread the best map across her thighs; she held it delicately, as if it...

  8. Romulus
    (pp. 129-154)

    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. Moved his feet in those brown slippers, while sitting in his brown chair.

    So she went away. Went into another room, perhaps, where she could walk back and forth, stopping only to pick things up, pausing only to put them down.

    She could hear him in the next room, rattling his newspaper.

    She...

  9. Mother-in-Law
    (pp. 157-192)

    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 metal.” We see that she’s brought her aquarium and hyacinths in pots and seventy-five balls of yarn—all the colors of spring, enough to knit a Matisse that would cover us three and our apartments and the stairwell in between them and all of our furniture...

  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-193)