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No Lie Like Love

No Lie Like Love

Paul Rawlins
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    No Lie Like Love
    Book Description:

    A shady financier visits his small hometown, a middle-aged divorcé emerges from a life of drastic austerity and self-denial, a sick and dying professor discovers the healing touch of a former student. From the South African veldt to the barren Utah desert, from the green lawns of suburbia to moonlit Pueblo ruins, the people in Paul Rawlins's debut story collection brave the Big Questions about relationships, love, and death, finding more often than not that their happiness to just get by is not enough. Asking for truth or understanding, but hoping the answers will be simple, they struggle with feelings often too deep, too new, too disquieting to articulate. The voices we hear most often belong to men-good men who have somehow come up short on love, answers, peace, time. Like the pro football player with a torn-up knee in "Big Texas," the HIV-positive teen in "The Matter of These Hours," or the recovering heroin addict in "August-Staying Cool," they find that age, accident, or self-made circumstances have stolen their abilities, stung their pride, or worse. Dangerously distanced from the women they should have loved more, they draw closer to buddies, brothers, fathers, and sons. But like the alkali flats in "Good for What Ails You," transformed by flash-flooding into an inland sea, Rawlins's characters show themselves capable of quick and fundamental change. Farmers and soldiers, athletes and scholars, rebels and high rollers, they fit our preconceptions only in the shallowest sense. In the ways they connect with Rawlins's elemental imagery-sun, water, earth-these people play with our essential notions about men and women as they surprise themselves about their strengths, about what they really desire and what others desire in them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4495-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents (pp. [ix]-[xii])
  3. No Lie Like Love (pp. 1-13)

    Down Theil Road outside of Washtucna, Washington, the cobalt blue of the south horizon at sunset marks the far-off line the sailing men of Christopher Columbus feared. A mile off West 26, first to the north, then to the south, you’ll see white houses, and they’ll each have a barn and a couple of silos, a windmill, and a pine windbreak. And around it all, in front to the highway and behind back to the edge of the world, is grain and grain and grain.

    It’s two hundred plus miles to Seattle, and that sunset takes up a curved third...

  4. Big Texas (pp. 14-30)

    There are nine of us at a noisy Italian restaurant for Al and J.B.’s anniversary party. Al is at the end of the table, where the waitresses have cleared room for his wheelchair. Rome at Home has the best-looking waitresses in San Antonio, Al tells me, college girls that glow like the pictures that come in photo frames. They wear Packer green aprons and white shirts with a thin pinstripe. Al slips an arm around one when she drifts too close and asks her to recommend something. She scribbles on her order pad and smiles, trying to scoot away.


  5. The Matter of These Hours (pp. 31-43)

    Jan does it like this, first day back. First day. Two hundred kids bumping, squalling like sheep in a kraal. Prefects in their new coats the color of plums, with name badges, handshaking and pointing directions down the yellow halls. Jan does this.

    He sniffs, sticks his nose up by them right there, and he says, “Kak.”

    They’re looking at him like it’s the disgustingest thing, dirt on their sleeves, while Jan drinks at the fountain, cold water, and pokes the corners of his mouth with the cuff on his jacket. “I’m gonna die,” he says.

    We’re in school.


  6. Big Where I Come From (pp. 44-53)

    How many stories begin with a young man getting off a bus with a bag in his hand to walk toward the old family home while the murky sky begins to rain?

    This is not my story.

    I hire a limo, waiting at the airport. I read the New York papers, and the driver does not even try to make conversation.

    I am big where I come from.

    “Don’t tell anyone I’ll be in town,” I have to warn the family. “You’ll cause a stir.”

    I have a secretary to keep track of my days and everything I have to...

  7. August—Staying Cool (pp. 54-68)

    This summer in record heat, five days running over a hundred degrees, I’m staying cool—no smack, no ice, no Robitussin remedy—jacked up on rock and roll pumped out on monster floor-to-ceiling speakers from my brother’s apartment. He explains how they produce a wall of sound that turns the front end of the living room into a stage when you sit at the point he’s triangulated out with string and a nail across the ceiling. He says you sit here and lay your head back; and I swear he’s right, that sometimes when the blues get deep enough the...

  8. Home and Family (pp. 69-83)

    Now, with my wife gone, and my children with her, and my job, I start my day with eggs I buy two dozen at a time on gray cardboard sheets. I germinate bean plants and tomatoes in the little bra-like cups, and I stack the cracked half-shells like bowls in the corner of my kitchen. I toast bread or graham crackers or English muffins in a wire basket over the gas flame of the camp stove until they turn just the color of catalpa husks, and I read a verse out of the New Word Bible. I say a prayer...

  9. Good for What Ails You (pp. 84-97)

    Kingsley says he is bored. Life bores him, unemployment bores him. “I don’t touch my wife,” he tells me. She tells me the same thing.

    “Boo,” Jean Ann says to me, “what’s wrong? You’re supposed to be his best friend.”

    She asks me in the kitchen, while Kingsley is out in the yard and I’ve got a forkful of cold enchilada casserole on its way to my mouth and no answer.

    “If we’d only have a baby,” she says.

    “You’ll have a baby,” I tell her, my mouth half full and chewing. “What’s your hurry if it’s just going to...

  10. Slangfontein (pp. 98-119)

    While they drove, Graham and Tokkie listened to the rugby over the radio. It was all Western Transvaal this year; there was nobody to stop them. They had a scrappy center who was always giving the “up yours” sign to the other team’s crowd after a try. Graham had the build for rugby, but he didn’t have the speed in his chunky feet.

    “I played when I was a kid,” he told Tokkie when she asked. “Everybody did.”

    Tokkie, Graham’s girl, lived in Kimberly, and when she wasn’t away at teachers college, Graham drove there every second weekend when he...

  11. Still Life with Father (pp. 120-127)

    These days my father has grown particular about his teeth. They’ve all been pulled now, and what he’s got on his mind are two sets of dentures, uppers and lowers, that he works over with a little brush under the light at the kitchen sink as careful as if he was repairing a watch. For years when it was just the uppers, he used to keep them in his shirt pocket half the time because, he said, they hurt to wear.

    “Don’t be so fussy” is what he used to tell me, his favorite advice when life wasn’t to my...

  12. Boys (pp. 128-143)

    If I had a mother, I have told Duke, she would look like Charlemagne, who is sitting now in the hay at the top of the barn where we all can look out the window at the moon. She has hair the color of hay and ditch grass in the fall, and her face and arms are the color of the white moon in the winter. Her legs, too, except they are covered in scratches like she’d been whipped with a chokecherry branch, and there are little red bites all up her legs and arms from the bugs in the...

  13. Kokopelli (pp. 144-165)

    In Albuquerque I have given my ragged body over to the care of a bossy, spindle-limbed white woman and a sour peasant who goes by the unlikely name of Robert Hombre. Now Sarah Hickman, the woman (whom I and everyone I know have always called Hickey), tells me she’s made an appointment for me with an herbalist who’s going to diagnose my ailments by looking into my eyes and tapping on my feet.

    “He squeezes around until he finds the spots that make you scream, and those correspond with the impurities in your organs,” Hickey says.

    “He sounds like a...

  14. Back Matter (pp. 166-167)