From an acclaimed and award-winning young writer comes an intensely moving debut collection set in the eye of life’s storms. In Corpus Christi, Texas—a town often hit by hurricanes— parents, children, and lovers come together and fall apart, bonded and battered by memories of loss that they feel as acutely as physical pain.
A car accident joins strangers linked by an intimate knowledge of madness. A teenage boy remembers his father’s act of sudden and self-righteous violence. A “hurricane party” reunites a couple whom tragedy parted. And, in an unforgettable three-story cycle, an illness sets in profound relief a man’s relationship with his mother and the odd, shifting fidelity of truth to love.
Told in fresh, lyrical voices and taut, inventive styles, these narratives explore the complex volatility of love and intimacy, sorrow and renewal—and expose how often these experiences feel like the opposite of themselves. From the woman whose young son’s uncanny rapport with snakes illuminates her own missed opportunities to the man confronting his wife and her lover in a house full of illegal exotic birds, all the characters here face moments of profound decision and recognition in which no choice is clearly or completely right.
Writing with tough humor, deep humanity, and a keen eye for the natural environment, Bret Anthony Johnston creates a world where where cataclysmic events cut people loose from their “regular lives, floating and spiraling away from where we had been the day before.” Corpus Christi is a extraordinarily ambitious debut. It marks the arrival of an important, exquisitely talented voice to American fiction.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Corpus Christi|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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As Hurricane Alicia drifted north-northup the Gulf Coast from Veracruz, Mexico, Sonny Atwill stood outside McCoy's Lumber hanging no plywood signs in the windows. A gray, blurring rain blew over the parking lot, diffusing the headlights of cars waiting for empty spaces. Horns blared and bleated. In addition to the plywood being gone, the store was low on batteries, masking tape, flashlights, kerosene lanterns, bottled water, sandbags and propane. Originally the Hurricane Center had predicted that Baffin Bay, Texas, would bear the brunt, but revised reports had it heading for Corpus Christi, making landfall that evening. Sonny believed the storm would veer south, go in around Laredo; he'd projected its course with a grease pencil on his laminated hurricane map.
When he came back inside the store, a woman was sitting at the bottom of a rolling ladder in the cabinet fixtures aisle, crying. She had her face cupped in her hands. He thought to sidestep the hassle and let someone else explain that the store was sold out of everything she would need. This was what he'd learned over the years: Stay out of it. He was fifty-nine, retired from Coastal Oil Refinery, working ten hours a week at McCoy's because his doctor wanted him to exercise. Usually he was off on Friday, but when the shipment had unexpectedly arrived last night, the manager had ponied up ten sheets of plywood for Sonny himself to use, plus regular pay, if he would clock in this morning. The woman kept her back to him as she stood. Leave her be, he thought once more--let the husband come. Yet he was drawn to her, reluctantly compelled to suggest other lumberyards and offer the possibility that the storm would spa...