What We Come in for: Stories

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University of Missouri Press, 2000 - Fiction - 159 pages
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Down there, in the heartland, lies Paradise—the fictional town that forms the heart of Richard Lundquist's collection What We Come in For. Like the sturdy quilt or linoleum floor, these stories are individually remarkable yet intimately connected: a fatherless boy whose affection for an unsavory hired hand is at odds with his own sense of rectitude; a woman who leaves her empty house only to find a greater emptiness in the arms of the town minister; a vagabond son who returns for his mother's funeral and begins to salvage his own life and hers by transgressing the laws and customs of Paradise. All of the stories share the same landscapes and landmarks—the M & P Café, the Greener Pasture, and Turk's Bluff—and all convey the sense of loss, fear, and helplessness that characterizes this heartland.

Lundquist's characters share a history that is portrayed in vignettes between stories. These vignettes are like dimly remembered dreams—of locust plagues, windsickness, flood, and fire—that fade against the pulse of the day. Yet they are the thread that connects each separate patch of the quilt, unifying Lundquist's vision.

Evocative and elegantly written, What We Come in For is a testament to life in Paradise, its hardships and rewards, and its inhabitants' inner struggles to endure both.


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A Town Paradise Was Built
Now It Looks Respectable
The Wonder of His Levitation
She Would Offer Those Distant Men Buttermilk and Bread
The Flood
The Dugout
When the Blood Came Faster than the Water
A Useless Pile of Rocks

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About the author (2000)

Richard Lundquist divides his time between the Smoky Valley near Lindsborg, Kansas and Boise State University in Idaho, where he teaches writing and literature.

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