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A Disaffection

James Kelman

PATRICK DOYLE WAS A teacher. Gradually he had become sickened by it.

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The Oval Lady [La Dama Ovale]

Leonora Carrington

Uncle Sam Carrington

When Uncle Sam Carrington saw the full moon he was never able to stop laughing. A sunset had the same effect on Aunt Edgeworth. These two events created much suffering for my mother who took pleasure in a certain social prestige.

(translation by Rochelle Holt)

Happy Easter!

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A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing

Eimear McBride

He’s got this job and he won’t drive but won’t get a lift with yer one and he won’t give me his pay now and won’t move to his own and he won’t help around the house and he won’t fill the buckets clean the fire and his bin is full of sweets and he’s getting tub now and he won’t go out and he has no friends in and computer games morning noon and night and he won’t make the dinner even if I’m at work til all hours and he won’t even throw his laundry out and he won’t make his bed and he gets raging if I say and he kicked my washing line pole in two and he won’t clean the drains and he won’t put up those shelves and he won’t take the hoover out and he is eating curry noodles late at night and makes me wash his dishes up there’s something wrong he’s so unfair and I always did my best for you and worst off he won’t come for prayers or on Sunday go to mass says Jesus shove it up his rear I never reared ye to speak like that and what shall I do with him what can I do he’s a grown man he’s twenty-one and sometimes I wish your father hadn’t died that he’d had enough gumption to be a man it never would have been like this I know we’ve had our difficulties but you’re such a good girl that I know I know I must have done something somewhere right what did I do to deserve this treatment?
I did try. I did try first. She won’t hear.

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Laidlaw

William McIlvanney

Running was a strange thing. The sound was your feet slapping the pavement. The lights of passing cars batted your eyeballs. Your arms came up unevenly in front of you, reaching from nowhere, separate from you and from each other. It was like the hands of a lot of people drowning. And it was useless to notice these things. It was as if a car had crashed, the driver was dead, and this was the radio still playing to him.
A voice with a cap on said, ‘Where’s the fire, son?’
Running was a dangerous thing. It was a billboard advertising panic, a neon sign spelling guilt. Walking was safe. You could wear strolling like a mask. Stroll. Strollers are normal.
The strangest thing was no warning. You wore the same suit, you chose your tie carefully, there was a mistake about your change on the bus. Half-an-hour before it, you had laughed. Then your hands were an ambush. They betrayed you. It happened so quickly. Your hands, that lifted cups and held coins and waved, were suddenly a riot, a brief raging. The consequence was forever.
And the meaning of everything was changed. It had no meaning or too many meanings, all of them mysterious. Your body was a strange place. Hands were ugly. Inside, you were all hiding-places, dark corners. Out of what burrows in you had the creatures come that used you? They came from nowhere that you knew about.

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Lanark: A Life In Four Books

Alasdair Gray

This patient, gentlemen, is suffering from adaption. Let me give you an example of adaption. A hardworking man of thirty loses his job through no fault of his own. For two or three months he hunts for work but can’t find any. His national insurance money runs out and he goes on the dole. In these circumstances his energy and initiative are a burden to him. They make him want to break things and punch people. So instinctively his metabolism lowers itself. He grows slovenly and depressed. A year or two passes, he’s offered a job at last and refuses it. Unemployment has become his way of life. He’s adapted to it. In the same way some people come here with commonplace illnesses which, after an initial improvement, stop responding to treatment. Why? In the absence of other factors we must assume that the patient has adapted to the hospital itself.

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Sightlines

Kathleen Jamie

Consider: the atoms of you have been fizzing about for a bit less than five billion years, and for forty-odd of those years, they’ve been pretty well as self-aware as you. But soon enough they’ll go fizzing off again into the grasses and whatever, and they’ll never, ever know themselves as the sum of you again. That’s it. And you ask me why we’re driven? Why aren’t more folk driven?

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Carpentaria

Alexis Wright

The ancestral serpent, a creature larger than storm clouds, came down from the stars, laden with its own creative enormity. It moved graciously – if you had been watching with the eyes of a bird hovering in the sky far above the ground. Looking down at the serpent’s wet body, glistening from the ancient sunlight, long before man was a creature who could contemplate the next moment in time. It came down those billions of years ago, to crawl on its heavy belly, all around the wet clay soils in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

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Class Warfare

D M Fraser

From a letter found among the papers of Marie Tyrell, after her execution:

Comrades, there is less to tell you now than I would have thought, less to say, evidently, than you are prepared to hear. Often my mind is wholly empty, quiet, a room vacated in anticipation of some catastrophe, which will come soon enough. I apologize to my brothers and sisters, for this. I understand what you expect of me, what you deserve, in this darkening of our history. You need something usable, a Statement, to ennoble our cause and shame our enemies, words to engrave, soberly, on the monuments you doubtless will not forget to erect to me. There was a time when I knew the words. I remember how they rang in our meeting-rooms, at our rallies, how they shone in my mind, when we spoke them together. I remember how I repeated them, for comfort’s sake, again and again through the nights I lay in hiding, and when I was discovered and taken away, how joyfully I spat them at my tormentors. They were good words, and I do not regret them, nor the end they led me to. Be certain of that. Now they have left me, as so much else is leaving me, and I have not the strength, nor the wish, to call them back. Let my memorial be silent, if you would build it. More blood than mine will be shed, before you do.

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Wittgenstein’s Mistress

David Markson

IN THE BEGINNING, sometimes I left messages in the street.
Somebody is living in the Louvre, certain of the messages would say. Or in the National Gallery.
Naturally they could only say that when I was in Paris or in London. Somebody is living in the Metropolitan Museum, being what they would say when I was still in New York.
Nobody came, of course. Eventually I stopped leaving the messages.

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La nébuleuse du Crabe

Éric Chevillard

Chaque papillon transporte sur ses ailes la dose exacte de poudre aux yeux dont Crab a besoin pour croire, pendant un court instant, que le monde est à sa guise.

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La carne de René

Virgilio Piñera

-Padre-lo interrumpió René-, ahora me doy cuenta, nunca te he visto tomar chocolate. En cuanto a mí, no sé qué gusto tiene.
-Sigues siendo un ingenuo. Así que nos rebajaríamos a tomar chocolate. ¿Tan simples nos crees como para vernos con una taza de chocolate en la mano? Lo que defendemos es la causa del chocolate. No tendría sentido que a miles de leguas de distancia de la batalla por el chocolate nos dispusiéramos a beberlo como unos desesperados. Y para acabar de ilustrarte: te confieso que nos harta. Tu mismo abuelo sonreía socarronamente cuando hablaban del chocolate, lo cual no obsta para que haya gastado su vida defendiéndolo a brazo partido.

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Rat Girl

Kristin Hersh

When we play gay bars, she and her priest look like a coupla nifty drag queens, but in this dismal rock club, they look small and lonely - out of place. It’s sad that this is their big Friday night out on the town. There are probably better things for an old lady and her priest to do on a Friday night.

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Hoppe

Felicitas Hoppe

Weltweit, egal welcher Zeitung, hat Hoppe immer dieselbe Geschichte erzählt: wie sie als Ratte mit Schnurrbart und Schwanz versehen, Wurst in der Linken, Brot in der Rechten, den Marktplatz ihrer Heimatstadt Hameln betritt, um sich im Freilichttheater unter der Führung des Rattenfängers vor Touristen aus aller Welt ein Taschengeld zu verdienen.

April Fools’ Day

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Speedboat

Renata Adler

Talent was blazing through the columns and onto the coffee tables. The physical-assault metaphor had taken over the reviews. “Guts,” never much of a word outside the hunting season, was a favorite noun in literary prose. People were said to have or to lack them, to perceive beauty and make moral distinctions in no other place. “Gut-busting” and “gut-wrenching” were accolades. “Nerve-shattering,” “eye-popping,” “bone-crunching” - the responsive critic was a crushed, impaled, electrocuted man. “Searing” was lukewarm. Anything merely spraining or tooth-extracting would have been only a minor masterpiece.

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Giù la piazza non c’è nessuno

Dolores Prato

Sono nata sotto un tavolino. Mi ci ero nascosta perché il portone aveva sbattuto, dunque lo zio rientrava. Lo zio aveva detto: «Rimandala a sua madre, non vedi che ci muore in casa?».
Ambiente non c’era intorno, visi neppure, solo quella voce.