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Out Loud

Out Loud

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    Out Loud
    Book Description:


    Feeling distanced from her friends and family, middle-aged divorcée Caitlin Drury is encouraged by her daughter to express her feelings in a diary, but she is hesitant:"I feel lonelyshe wrote, then crossed it out. She didn't like the idea of someone coming along later to read her journal, finding out she felt lonely." "Like That," and other stories from Anthony Varallo's new collectionOut Loudgive voice to the disconnections of family and relationships, and the silent emotions that often speak louder than words.In "The Walkers," we follow a couple on their daily trek through a bedroom community, where they partially glimpse their neighbors' lives, longing for inclusion. Yet their insular lifestyle ensures that they deal with people only on the surface--without learning the truth of their problems.Out Loudtells of longings for meaningful expression and the complexities and escapism of human interactions that keep us from these truths. Varallo uses the trials of youth and remembrances of the past, the rituals and routines of the everyday, the interactions of family, friends, teachers, and neighbors to peel away the layers of language and actions we use to shield ourselves.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-9112-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 1-14)

    Cody was surprised to see Mr. Turner getting into a Toyota Tercel. He would have imagined Mr. Turner driving something more like his mother’s car, a Pontiac Bonneville, or maybe even a Town Car. But of course Mr. Turner couldn’t afford a Town Car on a teacher’s salary. Mr. Turner wore polyester-blend dress shirts and had a habit of taking large swallows of coffee from a Colonial Williamsburg coffee mug, a souvenir from last year’s disastrous field trip there. That was the day Cody had been sent home for fighting but hadn’t even thrown a punch. He’d cried in front...

    (pp. 15-27)

    The couple with the baby stroller walks the neighborhood at four. They make an athletic-looking pair, she in gray sweatpants, a yellow Walkman strapped to her arm, he with a striped headband and a V of sweat showing through his T-shirt, although it is not especially hot outside. Has he just come from a tennis match or the treadmill? They are the kind of people that would own a treadmill. The treadmill looking out onto a lawn that slopes toward the manmade pond we have only ever seen the station wagon couple attempt to fish, both clearly in retirement, the...

    (pp. 28-44)

    The problem with July was, Devin thought, it had no head or tail. No graduation marked its arrival, like June, when Devin had fastened his mortarboard with a bobby pin; no move would signal its close, like August, when Devin would begin his studies at a prestigious, second-tier college, saying goodbye to all that was petty, small, and beloved by his parents. “Do you know what the problem with July is?” he asked. Remi turned to look at him. “It’s super hot,” she said. She had her feet on the dash. Her mother had let her stick temporary butterfly tattoos...

  4. TORO
    (pp. 45-54)

    When Jonas was nine, the job of mowing the lawn fell to him and offered, like the binoculars his father left behind, a magnified view of the world. The lawn, which had always seemed to him a dull carpet where horseshoes could be pitched, sprinklers hopped, and footballs made to stand on end, now revealed itself to be the stage upon which the house actually stood, whose proper care was a kind of drama in which Jonas, pushing the mower with socks rolled to his ankles, became his father’s sudden understudy. Neighbors, spotting him, waved. Bees, indifferent to the mower’s...

    (pp. 55-69)

    We’re outside, spit-shining marching band cymbals, when Randy the Raven shows up. We both know it’s Pete Hampson inside, but that doesn’t make much difference, really. Pete’s wearing his mascot head with its creepy wide eyes, his breath like a runner crossing the finish line. We used to be friends, Pete and I. Back in middle school. But we never mention this anymore. I am fifteen, a cymbal player in the school marching band. My best friend is Larry Greer. It was Larry’s idea to shine the cymbals outside, to get the best possible light. Tonight our football team is...

    (pp. 70-78)

    The summer he was seven his parents split—crrack, like that—and a bird moved into the chimney. What do birds know?

    One night during the summer he was seven the boy found his mother kissing the wooden banister that swirled to a point at the foot of the stairs. She had her knees in the carpet, eyes closed, hands around the bottom post like it was a man’s neck. Her lips made kissy-kissy noises against the wood. The summer he was seven the lawn grew past his knees.

    The best show during the summer he was seven wasThe...

    (pp. 79-93)

    He shouldn’t have worn sneakers. That was a mistake. A shower would have helped, too. Why could he never remember that skipping a shower didn’t lend him a feeling of rebelliousness, as his mirror would like to have him think, but only made him feel slimy, insecure? Conner stopped to retie his shoelace in front of the library. The library was closed now, as were the dining halls, the student center, and the university bookstore; a week ago Conner had sold back his books for Professor Palma’s course, Ancient Rome. Forty-one dollars and ninety-three cents. Conner felt guilty for selling...

    (pp. 94-96)

    When the French girls came, I was halfway throughLord of the Flies. When the French girls came, my two best friends were Jonathan Akers and Matt Drew. Jonathan had a head shaped like a flipped pail and sometimes wore his raincoat to class, where he made a show of removing a gold Cross pen from its inner pocket, then testing its tip against his tongue. He was fond of Pringles. We sometimes spent the weekend at Matt’s house, where his mother allowed us to swim late into the night in their heated pool, the pool lights sending fantastic paisley...

    (pp. 97-111)

    That a life could go many ways was no secret to Caitlin Drury; still she had a difficult time accounting for her own. She was fifty-six, divorced, and drawn to things she had little aptitude for. She took a watercolor course at a community college (she couldn’t draw a stick figure), listened to Purcell at the breakfast table (the only music that made any sense to her was doo-wop), and had just enough disparate and diverse friends to effectively cancel each other out at parties. At night, the sound of a slow train passing through town filled her with a...

    (pp. 112-129)

    On the day Baker lost his job, he drove by the new gas station on the corner of Elm and Walker Creek. It was a sad-looking station, he thought, despite the red flags webbed between the islands, despite, or perhaps because of, the grand opening sign slumping from the shop window. These new gas stations lacked a certain charm, Baker thought. But he pulled in anyway.

    When Baker inserted his ATM card the pump thanked him, then showed a video of waves lapping a sandy shore. Baker usually enjoyed washing his windows, but here the washer handle was too short:...

    (pp. 130-144)

    The summer I was sixteen I worked at a movie theater. The theater was old, poorly patronized, and rumored to be tied to the mob, although I could never imagine my boss, Mr. Jolls, to be connected to that sort of thing. Mr. Jolls was nearly sixty, soft-spoken, and had a habit of wearing bath slippers around the office, which he’d decorated with pictures of birds. Sometimes I’d hang out in his office when there was nothing to do and he’d tell me about birds he and his wife had spotted together. They’d kept a list of these. When he...

  12. FAMILY DEBATES, 1976–1983
    (pp. 145-150)

    Mom: Until I pulled it out of his mouth, yes. But, no, he didn’teatit.

    Dad: Don’t remember.

    Sister: I remember him telling me he was going to do it, then hearing the rest from Uncle Oscar. Plus there’s that picture of Bobby holding the sparkler, making a face like,Mmm, delicious. But the sparkler isn’t even lit.

    Uncle oscar: All day he was telling me he was going to do it and then goddamned if he didn’t just stick that thing right in. I was the one drove him to the emergency room. The doctors, or orderlies I...

  13. KIN, KIND
    (pp. 151-158)

    Twenty minutes before Act One, I have to drag Claudius outside for hurling a urinal puck at Laertes. We grapple inside the boys’ bathroom, then make our way past the unlit trophy case and the orange-green lockers that give off a whiff of damp mittens and Fruit Roll-Ups. I’ve got him by the collar. He’s got me by the cardigan. I am forty-four years old, and the theater director for the Pleasant Breeze School for Gifted Children. This year we’re doingHamlet.

    “My dad’s a lawyer,” Claudius says.

    We push through the fire doors and stand in the faculty parking...

    (pp. 159-168)

    When Graham’s bus stopped at Fox Crossing, he did something that surprised himself: he stood and grabbed his book bag. Fox Crossing wasn’t his stop—he lived on Tangier Drive—but he followed Kevin Reynolds to the front of the bus as the driver pulled the door open with a wide, paddling motion, and felt as if he were about to parachute from a tremendous height.

    “This isn’t your stop,” the driver said.

    “I know.”

    The driver sighed and glanced out the side-view mirror, where the flashing lights of another bus could be seen like a dumb, insistent bug. Graham...