Lost Places: Stories

Lost Places: Stories

by Sarah Pinsker
Lost Places: Stories

Lost Places: Stories

by Sarah Pinsker


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A new collection from the author of Nebula Award winning A Song for a New Day and Philip K Dick Award winning Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea.

A half-remembered children's TV show. A hotel that shouldn't exist. A mysterious ballad. A living flag. Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author Sarah Pinsker's second collection brings together a seemingly eclectic group of stories that unite behind certain themes: her touchstones of music and memory are joined by stories about secret subversions and hidden messages in art. Her stories span and transcend genre labels, looking for the truth in strange situations from possible futures to impossible pasts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781618731999
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Publication date: 05/02/2023
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 391,856
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sarah Pinsker's first novel, A Song For A New Day, won the Nebula Award, and her first short fiction collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea won the Philip K Dick Award. She is also a singer/songwriter who toured nationally behind four albums on various independent labels. She has wrangled horses, managed grants, taught writing to college students, and tended bar badly. She lives with her wife and two rescued terriers in Baltimore, Maryland. Find her online at sarahpinsker.com and on Twitter @sarahpinsker.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted with permission from Sarah Pinsker's "Two Truths and a Lie"

In his last years, Marco’s older brother Denny had become one of those people whose possessions swallowed them entirely. The kind they made documentaries about, the kind people staged interventions for, the kind people made excuses not to visit, and who stopped going out, and who were spoken of in sighs and silences. Those were the things Stella thought about after Denny died, and those were the reasons why, after eyeing the four other people at the funeral, she offered to help Marco clean out the house.

“Are you sure?” Marco asked. “You barely even knew him. It’s been thirty years since you saw him last.”

Marco’s husband, Justin, elbowed Marco in the ribs. “Take her up on it. I’ve got to get home tomorrow and you could use help.”

“I don’t mind. Denny was nice to me,” Stella said, and then added, “But I’d be doing it to help you.”

The first part was a lie, the second part true. Denny had been the weird older brother who was always there when their friends hung out at Marco’s back in high school, always lurking with a notebook and a furtive expression. She remembered Marco going out of his way to try to include Denny, Marco’s admiration wrapped in disappointment, his slow slide into embarrassment.

She and Marco had been good friends then, but she hadn’t kept up with anyone from high school. She had no excuse; social media could reconnect just about anyone at any time. She wasn’t sure what it said about her or them that nobody had tried to communicate.

On the first night of her visit with her parents, her mother had said, “Your friend Marco’s brother died this week,” and Stella had suddenly been overwhelmed with remorse for having let that particular friendship lapse. Even more so when she read the obituary her mother had clipped, and she realized Marco’s parents had died a few years before. That was why she went to the funeral and that was why she volunteered.

“I’d like to help,” she said.

Two days later, she arrived at the house wearing clothes from a bag her mother had never gotten around to donating: jeans decades out of style and dappled with paint, treadworn gym shoes, and a baggy, age-stretched T-shirt from the Tim Burton Batman. She wasn’t self-conscious about the clothes—they made sense for deep cleaning—but there was something surreal about the combination of these particular clothes and this particular door.

“I can’t believe you still have that T-shirt,” Marco said when he stepped out onto the stoop. “Mine disintegrated. Do you remember we all skipped school to go to the first showing?”

“Yeah. I didn’t even know my mom still had it. I thought she’d thrown it out years ago.”

“Cool—and thanks for doing this. I told myself I wouldn’t ask anybody, but if someone offered I’d take them up on it. Promise me you won’t think less of me for the way this looks? Our parents gave him the house. I tried to help him when I visited, but he didn’t really let me, and he made it clear if I pushed too hard I wouldn’t be welcome anymore.”

Stella nodded. “I promise.”

He handed her a pair of latex gloves and a paper mask to cover her mouth and nose; she considered for the first time how bad it might be. She hadn’t even really registered that he had squeezed through a cracked door and greeted her outside. The lawn was manicured, the flower beds mulched and weeded and ready for the spring that promised to erupt at any moment, if winter ever agreed to depart. The shutters sported fresh white paint.

Which was why she was surprised when Marco cracked the door again to enter, leaving only enough room for her to squeeze through as she followed. Something was piled behind the door. Also beside the door, in front of the door, and in every available space in the entranceway. A narrow path led forward to the kitchen, another into the living room, another upstairs.

“Oh,” she said.

He glanced back at her. “It’s not too late to back out. You didn’t know what you were signing up for.”

“I didn’t,” she admitted. “But it’s okay. Do you have a game plan?”

“Dining room, living room, rec room, bedrooms, in that order. I have no clue how long any room will take, so whatever we get done is fine. Most of what you’ll find is garbage, which can go into bags I’ll take to the dumpster in the yard. Let me know if you see anything you think I might care about. We should probably work in the same room, anyhow, since I don’t want either of us dying under a pile. That was all I thought about while I cleaned a path through the kitchen to get to the dumpster: If I get buried working in here alone, nobody will ever find me.”

“Dining room it is, then.” She tried to inject enthusiasm into her voice, or at least moral support.

It was strange seeing a house where she had spent so much time reduced to such a fallen state. She didn’t think she’d have been able to say where a side table or a bookcase had stood, but there they were, in the deepest strata, and she remembered.

Table of Contents

Two Truths and a Lie
That Our Flag Was Still There
I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise
The Boy Who Will Become Court Magician
Everything is Closed Today
Left the Century to Sit Unmoved
Escape from Caring Seasons
A Better Way of Saying
Remember This for Me
The Mountains His Crown
Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather
Science Facts!
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