Synopses & Reviews
Peter Orner explores the impact of lifes essential moments, those brief but far-reaching occasions that haunt his characters. The discovery of a crime, a theatrical performance in a small town, or the recollection of a cruel wartime decision are equally affecting in Orners vivid scenarios. Esther Stories is divided into four distinct parts, each with its own momentum. The first half of the book concerns the lives of unrelated strangers, and the second introduces two Jewish families, one on the East Coast, the other in the Midwest.
These stories cover considerable geographic ground from Nova Scotia to Mississippi, from Fall River, Massachusetts, to Chicago but the real territory is emotional. As the narrator of the title story tries to piece together his late aunt Esthers life from the fragments of stories told about her, he remembers what she told him in a dark kitchen when he was a child: You pay for everything. When you think youre getting something for free remember this youll pay later.” All thirty-two wide-ranging pieces funny or sorrowful, urban or rural, simple or innovative are welcome additions to the art of the story.
Covering considerable geographic ground--from Nova Scotia to Mississippi--the stories in this debut collection explore the impact of life's essential moments. Winner of the 2000 James Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
About the Author
Peter Orner is the 2002-2003 winner of the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His story collection, Esther Stories, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award, and winner of the Samuel Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction. Orner holds both an MFA from the University of Iowa and a degree in law. His work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology and has appeared in a number of national publications, including The Atlantic Monthly and The Paris Review. Orner currently lives in San Francisco and teaches at San Francisco State University.
Table of Contents
1. What Remains Initials Etched on a Dining-Room Table, Lockeport, Nova Scotia 3 Thumbs 6 In the Walls 14 Early November 17 Pile of Clothes 19 Papa Ginos 26 On a Bridge over the Homochitto 30
2. The Famous Cousin Tucks 37 Two Poes 46 Shoe Story 56 Thursday Night at the Gopher Hole, April 1992 58 County Road G 66 At the Motel Rainbow 70 Sitting Theodore 81 3. fall river marriage At Horseneck Beach 93 Sarah 94 Walt Kaplan Reads Hiroshima, March 1947 97 Melba Kuperschmid Returns 104 Birth of a Son-in-Law 113 At the Conrad Hilton 118 Awnings, Bedspreads, Combed Yarns 124 High Priest at the Gates 131 In the Dark 133 Atlantic City 136 Providence 140
4. The Waters Michigan City, Indiana 153 The Raft 155 The House on Lunt Avenue 160 Daughters 170 My Father in an Elevator with Anita Fanska, August 1976 179 Seymour 182 The Moraine on the Lake 184 Esther Stories 186 The Waters 217