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Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry

Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry: Stories

Christine Sneed
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vk6tf
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  • Book Info
    Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry
    Book Description:

    The ten stories in this striking debut collection examine the perils of love and what it means to live during an era when people will offer themselves, almost unthinkingly, to strangers. Risks and repercussions are never fully weighed. People leap and almost always land on rocky ground. MayDecember romances flourish in these stories, as do selfdoubt and, in many cases, serious regret. Mysterious, dangerous benefactors, dead and living artists, movie stars and college professors, plagiarists, and distinguished foreign novelists are among the many different characters. No one is blameless, but villains are difficult to single outeveryone seemingly bears responsibility for his or her desires and for the outcome of difficult choices so often made hopefully and naively.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-045-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. Quality of Life
    (pp. 3-15)

    Mr. Fulger called when he wanted to see her and she obliged. For a while it was all very matter-of-fact, like a visit to the library, the reasons for going unequivocal. Regret rarely played a part. And there was little premeditation, as far as she could tell. Mr. Fulger, when not with her, resided on a plane that did not intersect her own, and after her initial period of infatuation had worn off, she had ceased to hope they might meet by chance. She had tried for a few weeks to find where he lived and worked, but he had...

  4. Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry
    (pp. 16-31)

    Antonio Martedi, a painter and sculptor who had sold what he sometimes boasted were his least interesting works to American museums, told his granddaughter, April Walsh, on what turned out to be the day before his death, that he had not lived in fear of mediocrity so much as the disdain of beautiful women. He had made art because he wanted to be loved, preferably by many beautiful women in a slow but uninterrupted progression, women who would remember him fondly after their affair had ended and keep whatever sketches or canvases he had given them in an honored place...

  5. Twelve + Twelve
    (pp. 32-46)

    Someone in the alley three stories below my window was calling out to someone else and what he was saying was not very nice. Maybe he did it because we were all stuck in an ugly, listless March, ice visible everywhere and clinging to our lawns like a dense gray scum. We were exhausted and cynical under cloudy skies, our pants cuffs perpetually caked in grit and mud, our car tires spinning and spinning on snow-choked streets. No one I knew was outside digging up the flower beds, and certainly no one was in the mood to offer spare coins...

  6. You’re So Different
    (pp. 47-63)

    Over the past two hours, she has heard a number of very personal complaints from people she knew twenty years ago, most of whom she hasn’t spoken with since they were in high school together. The hall the party planners have rented is poorly maintained and stinks of rotting wood and damp plaster, the water-stained ceiling flaking in the corners. Tickets, inexplicably, were eighty dollars, but she kept her word, bought her plane ticket as promised, and reserved a hotel room. Three of the organizers had called her office in far away San Jose and begged her to come. For...

  7. By the Way
    (pp. 64-80)

    And what, in the hidden, velvet-lined chambers of his heart, do I think he holds most dear? There must be, fixed but quivering, a boyhood coonskin cap, an Alaskan cruise taken at age fourteen, a championship Pac-man score and several issues ofMad Magazine,a large serving of truly celestial lasagna, a half-dozen Bruce Springsteen songs, and maybe, if I’m really lucky, the picture he took of my hand holding a sweating lemonade glass. It could be worse, I know. It could be taxidermied armadillos and Foghat lyrics and velvet Elvis portraits and a brand new can of honey-roasted peanuts...

  8. Alex Rice Inc.
    (pp. 81-100)

    She finds his name on her roster two days before the start of the fall semester and then can only stare at it. At first she doesn’t want to believe it. It seems a petty joke, meant only to disorient her. But he is there with twenty other names, as rumors all summer have claimed he would be, this thirty-two-year-old movie actor, now a full-time student at the university where she has taught American literature for four years. Apparently he is intent on becoming something other than a veteran of a few expensive flops and a half-dozen vacuous blockbusters. Over...

  9. Interview with the Second Wife
    (pp. 101-116)

    Eleven years ago, a young man traveled through four states to meet with me. It was a few months after Patric had died, and until yesterday, I don’t think I had thought about this man in a few years. His name was in yesterday’s paper, not on the front page, but this is a newspaper at least two or three million people read each day, and there was his picture, section 2, page 4, the story an unfortunate one. It seems he had plagiarized a large portion of one of his former students’ dissertations and sent it off into the...

  10. For Once in Your Life
    (pp. 117-130)

    Sunday was the day of arguments. Most of the time people stood up to argue too—there was no prim bickering across the table or the room. They had held in grudges and suspicions all week, and after church, with those who went or not, the complaints came out in a bitter torrent. Sunday was not a day of rest with casseroles and long naps, nor of peace and contemplative behavior. It was a day of snits, as far as Lynne could tell, some of them nearing viciousness, a day of blaming and berating, of accusing others of acting loose...

  11. A Million Dollars
    (pp. 131-146)

    For one, I am not as dumb as some people seem to think I am. He should know that only morons would ever fall for that old line—“Have I seen you somewhere before? Because you look like a model. You have to let me take your picture.” That one ranks right up there with “If you start selling these vacuum cleaners, you’ll soon be so rich you’ll only have to work three weeks a year,” or “This car’s got a lot of miles on it, but it’s still in mint condition.” Whatever. The guy might be an idiot, but...

  12. Walled City
    (pp. 147-154)

    Wednesday is the day with the highest number of calls, the phone ringing as often as seventy-five times an hour, some of the calls going to voicemail because the operator cannot bear to put another irascible person on hold. Friday is the quietest day, the calls tapering off around one o’clock to only a few an hour, though there’s a flurry right at five, most of them left to ring, the noise turning plaintive when previously it had seemed purposeful. This office is the clearinghouse, the repository for much that preoccupies the population of a once-thriving walled city, one where...

  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 155-157)