This Is Not the Tropics

Overview

The stories collected in This Is Not the Tropics come from the geographic center of a divided nation, and its protagonists evoke a split personality—one half submerged in America’s own diehard mythology, the other half searching to escape tradition. Together they form a portrait of the Plains that is both quirky and poignant. While the themes in this collection are familiar—love and betrayal, loneliness and regret, the needs of the individual versus the needs of the community—the stories themselves are startling ...

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This Is Not the Tropics: Stories

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Overview

The stories collected in This Is Not the Tropics come from the geographic center of a divided nation, and its protagonists evoke a split personality—one half submerged in America’s own diehard mythology, the other half searching to escape tradition. Together they form a portrait of the Plains that is both quirky and poignant. While the themes in this collection are familiar—love and betrayal, loneliness and regret, the needs of the individual versus the needs of the community—the stories themselves are startling and new. Whether it is the story of an eccentric, out-of-work accordion player; a woman ending a long marriage against the backdrop of a visit from her failing mother; a young girl who wishes to solve a mystery until real mystery enters her life; two sisters who watch as their mother battles an entire town, including their father; a man who comes to be suspicious of his new girlfriend’s stalker story; or all of the men in a small Nebraska town who annually compete in a hilariously earnest beauty pageant, these are tales that speak of the lives lived in the small towns, the prairie cities, and on the dirt roads off blue highways in the middle of nowhere and everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“These are stories of compassion and surprising generosity, as characters who have been trapped find escape, who have been lonely find company, and who have endured loss face not sorrow, but transformation.”—Erin McGraw, author of The Good Life: Stories

“Ladette Randolph’s stories sink their teeth into the deep Nebraska Midwest the way that Flannery O’Connor tore into the heart of Georgia. There’s a wonderfully sly, deadpan sweetness at work here, so that it may take a moment to realize how odd and twisty the stories are. Randolph seems like such a nice, earnestly polite young woman—and then suddenly your wallet is missing and she’s driving away in your car! These are beautifully crafty, beguiling stories: witty, wise, and wicked.”—Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me and Among the Missing

“Ladette Randolph’s stories have the sly, subtle intensity of a snake gliding through grass. They sneak up on their characters and the reader alike, invoking humor, grace, and wisdom before pouncing on us with exhilarating epiphanies that are as dark and brutal as they are hopeful.”—Meghan Daum, author of The Quality of Life Report and My Misspent Youth

Publishers Weekly
A clear-eyed portrait of the Plains emerges over 15 debut stories from University of Nebraska press executive editor Randolf. In "Billy,"a long-resigned housewife trapped in a loveless marriage gets ready to flee town with a more compatible if unexciting married man when her husband suddenly dies. In the poignant, unnerving "Hyacinths," an unexpected pregnancy and the possibility of a church group's dubious intervention causes a once cheerful mother to rebel against the hypocrisy of a town "fossilized in the past." House-sitting her eccentric professor's home, replete with pornographic art and two needy pugs, may have more to teach a young college student about life than her closest friends in "The Girls." A small Nebraska town becomes a hotbed of aggressively charged transvestism in "Miss Kielbasa," as local men ready for the annual "queen contest" while a white daughter frets over her family's reaction to her upcoming nuptials to a black man. Solid but never surprising, the stories have a claustrophobic feel that is often appropriate to their characters' circumscribed lives, but that just as often limits their reach. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299215101
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 9/12/2005
  • Series: Library of American Fiction Series
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ladette Randolph is the editor of A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers and associate director and executive editor at the University of Nebraska Press. She received the Rona Jaffe Award for emerging women writers and a Pushcart Prize for her story “Mercy.”

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Table of Contents

What she knows 3
A member of the family 38
The boy in the band uniform 59
The shouting woman 67
Miss Kielbasa 87
It's cheaper to live in the dark 107
Hyacinths 120
The girls 140
The picture in her dream 169
Billy 180
This is not the tropics 196
After Canaan 216
The sensitive man 235
Dill 251
The blue room 266
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