How the Water Feels: Stories
Paul Eggers’s stories examine the moral arena created by the existence of refugees. Some are stories about literal refugees, those displaced in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and about those who would help them. Others are about refugees in a metaphoric sense—people alternately bullied and bullying, exiled from sources of power, caught in moments when the familiar gives way.
In “The Year Five,” Nguyen Van Trinh, one of the boat people who left Vietnam after the war, is living in a squalid refugee camp on Bidong Island. He is as powerless to repress his sorrow over his daughter’s death as the Malaysian administrative chief of the island is to find out who carved Trinh’s name into the wooden plank in the staff eating hut.
In “The Public Spectacle,” Bridget and Owen Greef, two misfits, have been growing apart because of his obsession with chess and Bobby Fischer. They both must come to terms with the fact that they are—as a couple and as individuals—permanent outsiders.
In “Anything You Want, Please,” Peace Corps trainee Reuben Gill is led into the malevolent presence of long-term “jungle junkie” (and Peace Corps volunteer) Geronimo Donaldson’s companion monkey. In this alien place, Gill finds himself struggling against his own worst impulses, beginning to doubt the strength of his commitment to his stateside fiancée.
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How the Water Feels
Anything You Want Please
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Ahmed Annie arms asked asthma beach Bidong Island boat Bobbi Bobby Fischer Boris Spassky bottle bunk camp Captain chess chess clock chessmen Chinese Cho's Cindy clipboard desk door Duoc ears eyes face felt fingers floor Francine Freddy Fender fucks Gary Geronimo girl Gurmit hair hand Hank hard head hear heard Jackson Johnnie Walker Kiss knew Kuala Trengganu laughed lips looked loudspeaker Madeline Malay Malaysian Marion Miss Phu morning mouth move night nodded Okay Owen Peace Corps plank plastic play pocket pulled Rahim rain Rassmusson refugee Reggie Reuben Rick seemed shinola shirt shook shoulder shouted Sikh smelled smiled South China Sea stared stood stop T-shirt Tacoma talk Task Force tell things thought Tina tiny told turned UNHCR Vicky Vietnamese Viets voice walked watching waved whispering Willy woman words Zone F