Hard Witching And Other Stories
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Sand Hills, Saskatchewan, is a region of the prairies that is unique, an expanse of shifting sand dunes interrupted by patches of green vegetation, small lakes, and saline flats. Foreign yet familiar, Sand Hills is the extraordinarily vivid place threaded through Jacqueline Baker’s highly praised first collection of short fiction, eight fresh and true stories of prairie life. Baker writes with confidence and unvarnished honesty, and like Flannery O’Connor or Bonnie Burnard, she has the rare ability to make the familiar brilliant and finely understood. Hers are universal themes of the tensionsof family life, of relationships defined by what isn’t said, rather than what is, and of our connection to a past that may be real or imagined. Reading A Hard Witching is like entering a complete and perfectly detailed world with each story—worlds that are not easy to leave and even harder to forget.
it wasn’t the worst thing they said, not by far. But it made him angry anyway. Lucy would never say that. Or would she? He looked up at the sky, at the fat clouds moving heavily. Soon they would be right overtop of them. “My mom wants her baking pan,” he blurted. “What?” “My mom wants her baking pan.” “Right now?” “Yes.” He stuck out his chin. “She’s baking a cake.” He sat up straight and added, “Not for the baby.” “I thought you said she wasn’t home.” Lucy clucked her tongue against her
her face, gave that same crumpled smile. And it was Magda’s face, streaky red and swollen from the tears and the heat—Magda, who had never been beautiful but who could look at you with a kind of light in her eyes that would set your very bones gently humming. Perpetua stared at the woman, so hungry for that feeling, just one small glimmer, that she almost reached across the table and grasped her by the shoulders to bring her closer. Perpetua looked, and she saw no light there. And then the woman
my mother said afterwards. “Jam?” Just that morning I’d seen her sit down wearily on the back steps for ten minutes after taking only a few towels from the clothesline. I was catching her in these moments of exhaustion more frequently, and they were making me feel anxious and irritable. “You must be kidding.” She lifted the long red coil of hair from over her shoulder, then twisted it into a neat bun at the nape of her neck, the way she always wore it in hot weather—a motion that reminded me
door, set it outside. The sun was just beginning to dip below the bluing hills and the air had turned cold. I stood watching for a moment before I returned to the kitchen. “I’ll run this garbage to the burning barrel on my way out,” I said, taking my coat from a hook by the door. “I guess I never told you I read one of them Bibles.” He nodded, his eyes shining in the fading light. I wondered whether he’d started drinking again. “That John James,” he said, “he had nice handwriting. Must’ve took
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