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Stephanie Vaughn is a writer’s writer, one whose debut collection of stories, Sweet Talk, was published more than two decades ago to critical acclaim. Readers have come to these stories over the years through word of mouth, posting glowing reviews to their Goodreads pages and on their blogs—unanimously agreeing that this collection is a modern classic that deserves to be in print. Crafted in graceful, honest prose, Vaughn’s stories go straight to the heart of how people live, grow and survive.
ice, I hit a Tioga County Sheriff’s Department car. The car was parked on the road berm just beyond the bridge, and inside the car a sheriff was radioing for a tow truck, as if he knew I was coming and that when I got there, our two cars were going to need help. My car did a kind of simple dance step down the highway on its way to meet the sheriff’s car. It threw its hips to the left, it threw its hips to the right, left, right, left, right, then turned and slid, as if it were making a
hood. Then it cut to him just long enough for him to say, “We don’t want any more vehicles on this roadside,” and then the report hurried on to the “better wrecks.” Just before Officer Cook got to the word “roadside,” I got a hazy look at myself in the background, separated from Officer Cook by the hood of his car and streaks of falling snow. There we were, together again. There we were, the two of us locked forever in the frame of a TV screen, bouncing off of satellites and caroming over the
a real game. Let’s play twenty questions.” He took a pen from his pocket and flattened a paper napkin to use as a scorecard. He looked at MacArthur. “I am thinking of something. What is it?” We were all going to play this game, but my father’s look implied that MacArthur was the principal opponent. MacArthur tried to assume the gamesman’s bland expression. “Is it animal?” he said. My father appeared to think for a while. He mused at the candles. He considered the ceiling. This was part of the
Kalculating Kat problem, the floor fiasco, and the imaginary missing bloody toe. If I had somebody to tell these things to, I think I could make them into good stories.” Here is the cheerful almost-family scene. John, Barbie, and Marguerite are playing Parcheesi at the kitchen table. Everyone had two helpings of lasagna and no one has a cold. The cat is in the fourth chair, fat and sleepy, seventeen pounds of Kitty Meat Bites. Outside it is dark and the wind skims down the hill and throws puffs
was an orchard, beyond that a pasture, another orchard, and then the town of Lewiston, standing on the Niagara River seven miles upstream from the long row of red-brick Colonial houses that were the officers’ quarters at Fort Niagara. Duke was down the river, probably sniffing at the reedy edge, his head lifting when ducks flew low over the water. Once the dog had come back to our house with a live fish in his mouth, a carp. Nobody ever believed that story except those of us who saw it: me, my