Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories
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Finalist for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: "Watson's talent is singular, truly awesome; [his stories] are infused with an uncanny beauty."―A. M. Homes
In this, his first collection of stories since his celebrated, award-winning Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson takes us even deeper into the riotous, appalling, and mournful oddity of human beings.
In prose so perfectly pitched as to suggest some celestial harmony, he writes about every kind of domestic discord: unruly or distant children, alienated spouses, domestic abuse, loneliness, death, divorce. In his masterful title novella, a freshly married teenaged couple are visited by an unusual pair of inmates from a nearby insane asylum―and find out exactly how mismatched they really are.
With exquisite tenderness, Watson relates the brutality of both nature and human nature. There’s no question about it. Brad Watson writes so well―with such an all-seeing, six-dimensional view of human hopes, inadequacies, and rare grace―that he must be an extraterrestrial.
he didn’t want to dive into the crashing waves of the Pacific, as he certainly would have when he was younger. His son didn’t want to because, he said, he’d rather surf. “But you don’t know how to surf,” Loomis said. “Mom’s going to teach me as soon as she’s good enough at it,” the boy said. “But don’t you need to be a better swimmer before you try to surf?” Loomis had a vague memory of the boy’s swimming lessons, which maybe hadn’t gone so well. “No,” the boy said. “I really think,” Loomis
of Tarzan. There, the azaleas beneath mine and Ray’s bedroom window where every year our mother took an Easter photo of her boys, our bow ties and vests and hair flipped up in front. There, the picture window of the living room we used only at Christmas or when she and our father hosted their supper club. There, the inexplicable everyday, the oddness of being, the senseless belonging to this and not that. I was barely able to contain myself. Something in me wished it had all been blown to
them down. They drank up, paid, and left, hefting May’s arms again onto their shoulders, and put her into the car. Beth drove them to May’s house, and they helped her to the front door, got her keys from her pocket, and let themselves in. Her husband, Calvin, was at the hunting camp building stands. They took her to the bed and undressed her, tucked her in, put a glass of water beside the bed and a couple of ibuprofen beside it, and drove to Julie’s house. Julie started to get out. “You okay to
parted, and stared at him. “You need to be able to say it, darlin,” Judge Leacock said. “Yes,” Olivia whispered. “I now pronounce you man and wife,” the judge said. “That’ll be five dollars, please.” “Can I kiss the bride?” I said. “Go right ahead.” I kissed Olivia, pulled out my wallet, handed the judge a five-dollar bill. He gave us our copy of the certificate. We drove back home at forty miles per hour, windows down, sweating, not saying a word. A FEW WEEKS EARLIER, we’d secretly rented
she declared. “Me, neither,” I said. “And it’s way too late for that, anyway. They didn’t realize. Don’t worry.” There was a knock on the door. “Tell them to go away,” Olivia said, and burrowed herself beneath the bedsheet, clamping a pillow over her head. It was the landlady from downstairs, standing in the weak yellow glow of the deck light, her scrawny arms crossed, a scowl on her face. “If every night is going to be some kind of commotion like this,” she said, “I am not going to stand