Complete Stories

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When I first read Lispector in the s, I fell deeply, inexplicably in love. I wanted to know her work inside and out; I wanted to know everything about her. I read all I could find, which was not much and mostly in French translation.

Of all the eclectic posts on my Web site blog, the one that has consistently received the most views over the years contains two stories by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector translated by the poet Elizabeth Bishop. A link to my post regularly turns up on syllabi all over the world.

Elsewhere, her work, especially her stories, has remained relatively unknown and untranslated, hard to find except in random corners of the Internet. Benjamin Moser, author of the excellent biography Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector , has devoted much of his career to bringing this wonderfully weird writer to a wider audience. I read all I could find, which was not much and mostly in French translation as she was a darling of the French feminists. Kafka would have been had he been a woman, or if Rilke had been a Jewish Brazilian born in the Ukraine. If Rimbaud had been a mother, if he had reached the age of fifty.

If Heidegger could have ceased being German. No author before Lispector had ever spoken to me so directly, so obliquely, challenged me at once drastically and playfully to move to new places within and beyond language, within and beyond the body. No author had ever shown me so clearly, forcefully, profoundly, and humorously how the female experience is the human experience. As Moser notes in his introduction to Complete Stories , however, Lispector is not for everyone.

The kitchen opened into the bathroom and the bathroom opened into everything else and you were always where you started from. At home there was upstairs and the basement and the river and downtown in front of Fraziers Somewhere down the hall a woman shrilled something unintelligible out to the street; a radio was bleating the worn music to a soap serial; and a garbage can crashed down a fire escape. The door to the next apartment slammed and a sharp footstep clipped down the hall.

That Thursday he was looking out the door at the dog-run halls when this nigger went into the next apartment. He had on a gray, pin-stripe suit and a tan tie. His collar was stiff and white and made a clear-cut line next to his neck. His shoes were shiny tan—they matched his tie and his skin. Old Dudley scratched his head. He hadn't known the kind of people that would live thick in a building could afford servants. He chuckled.

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Lot of good a nigger in a Sunday suit would do them. Maybe this nigger would know the country around here—or maybe how to get to it. They might could hunt. They might could find them a stream somewhere. He shut the door and went to the daughter's room. Must be gonna clean for them. You reckon they gonna keep him every day? She walked to the other side of the bed. She went to the dresser and started fidgeting with things. Old Dudley laughed. She could be right funny when she wanted to. Maybe I can convince him he likes to fish," and he'd slapped his pocket to make the two quarters jingle.

Before he got out in the hall good, she came tearing behind him and pulled him in. He's renting that himself if he went in there. Don't you go asking him any questions or saying anything to him. I don't want any trouble with niggers. She shrugged. And you tend to your own business," she added. That's just the way she'd said it.

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Like he didn't have any sense at all. But he'd told her off then. He'd stated his say and she knew what he meant. If you think I want anything to do with them, you're crazy. She'd stood stiff up and said they lived where they could afford to live and made the best of it. Preaching to him! Then she'd walked stiff off without a word more. That was her. Trying to be holy with her shoulders curved around and her neck in the air. Like he was a fool. He knew Yankees let niggers in their front doors and let them set on their sofas but he didn't know his own daughter that was raised proper would stay next door to them—and then think he didn't have no more sense than to want to mix with them.

He got up and took a paper off another chair. He might as well appear to be reading when she came through again. No use having her standing up there staring at him, believing she had to think up something for him to do.

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He looked over the paper at the window across the alley. The geranium wasn't there yet. It had never been this late before.

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The first day he'd seen it, he had been sitting there looking out the window at the other window and he had looked at his watch to see how long it had been since breakfast. When he looked up, it was there. It startled him. He didn't like flowers, but the geranium didn't look like a flower.

It looked like the sick Grisby boy at home and it was the color of the drapes the old ladies had in the parlor and the paper bow on it looked like the one behind Lutish's uniform she wore on Sundays. Lutish had a fondness for sashes. Most niggers did, Old Dudley thought. The daughter came through again. He had meant to be looking at the paper when she came through. He hoped she didn't want him to go to the grocery again.

He got lost the time before. All the blooming buildings looked alike. He nodded. Schmitt to lend me the shirt pattern she uses for Jake. Why couldn't she just let him sit? She didn't need the shirt pattern. Old Dudley was always afraid that when he went out in the dog runs, a door would suddenly open and one of the snipe-nosed men that hung off the window ledges in his undershirt would growl, "What are you doing here?

She had on rimless glasses and there was a book in her lap. Niggers don't think they're dressed up till they got on glasses, Old Dudley thought. He remembered Lutish's glasses. She had saved up thirteen dollars to buy them. Then she went to the doctor and asked him to look at her eyes and tell her how thick to get the glasses.

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He made her look at animals' pictures through a mirror and he stuck a light through her eyes and looked in her head. Then he said she didn't need any glasses. She was so mad she burned the corn bread three days in a row, but she bought her some glasses anyway at the ten-cent store.

He realized he had made a noise, and covered his mouth with his hand. Somebody might hear him in one of the apartments. He turned down the first flight of stairs. Down the second he heard footsteps coming up. He looked over the banisters and saw it was a woman—a fat woman with an apron on. From the top, she looked kind er like Mrs.

Benson at home. He wondered if she would speak to him. When they were four steps from each other, he darted a glance at her but she wasn't looking at him. When there were no steps between them, his eyes fluttered up for an instant and she was looking at him cold in the face.

Then she was past him. She hadn't said a word. He felt heavy in his stomach. He went down four flights instead of three. Then he went back up one and found number Schmitt said O. She sent one of the children back to the door with it. The child didn't say anything. Revelation Parker's Back Judgement Day. See All Customer Reviews.

Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview Winner of the National Book Award The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. About the Author. Her Complete Stories , published posthumously in , won the National Book Award that year, and in a online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest's year history.

His daughter came in. She looked provoked. He didn't answer her. The cars moved in a rhythm below him. The geranium was late today. It was ten-thirty.

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They usually had it out by ten-fifteen. Right below us three floors down. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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The Complete Stories. Before he brilliantly traversed the gritty landscapes of underworld Detroit and Miami, Elmore Leonard wrote Before he brilliantly traversed the gritty landscapes of underworld Detroit and Miami, Elmore Leonard wrote breathtaking adventures set in America's nineteenth-century western frontier—elevating a popular genre with his now-trademark twisting plots, rich characterizations, and scalpel-sharp dialogue.

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