Fall 1966 • Vol. XXVIII No. 4 Fiction |

Gifts

Richard was seven when his father left his home. The event froze something permanently into his face, so that he squinted unnecessarily as if fearful that some detail, some tiny hieroglyphic might get by him. His brothers were eleven and thirteen, his sister sixteen or so, already grown up and remote; his mother was a pale, vague, weeping woman, with gray-brown hairs fallen loose on her shoulders. When she embraced Richard he saw them, twisting his head silently away, while his mother murmured something about "your father." "Your father, he—" There was an old upright piano in the front room, and after his father left his mother played the piano often, bent painstakingly over the keys, striking those that stuck with a violence none of her children liked to see. On top of the piano was a long shawl or scarf made of brilliant material, a souvenir of the Southwest. Richard did not think much about his mother since he understood the flinching, embarrassed shame of the rooms she passed

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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Accursed. Her memoir The Lost Landscape was published by Ecco in September 2015. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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Fleuve Bleu

By Joyce Carol Oates

Richard was seven when his father left his home. The event froze something permanently into his face, so that he squinted unnecessarily as if fearful that some detail, some tiny […]

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