Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Piñata" is out, ¡Olé!

Several copies of the latest issue of the Alabama Literary Review arrived in my mailbox yesterday. While I always prefer to receive cold, hard, roll-in-it-nekkid cash, contributor's copies are always appreciated -- especially when they look so nice.

My story in the issue, "Piñata," is about a woman who has recently immigrated to San Francisco from India, and what she finds in her newly adopted country--and within the strange environs of her arranged marriage, which comes complete with an obnoxious teenage stepson, an aggressively perky  sexpot who may have designs on her husband, and confusing jellybeans. Here's a brief excerpt:

In San Francisco it rained most of the time, and the streets filled up with fog. The sunlight that came through was pale and damp, like something that lived in a cave. Divyesh was more silent than he had seemed in Delhi, his son was a terrible, cruel boy, and the English lessons she had daydreamed through had not prepared her for how it was spoken here, quickly and with mysterious inflections. The house they lived in was small and modern, so close to the next house that Jimi could climb out onto the roof and pee on the tiny herb garden that belonged to their lady neighbor. Divyesh did not know he did this, but Sahana had seen the streams arcing past the kitchen window. The lady next door, a stout Latina who worked on the city council, thought that the urine smell was due to homeless people passing through the alley. She had left a note recently, asking them to report strangers they saw. 

A few weeks after Sahana arrived, Divyesh taught her to drive his little Toyota, guiding her slowly around the streets. He showed where to catch the streetcar, and the grocery store where she could buy Jimi’s terrible foods—noodles with orange powder, cereal shaped like letters, trays holding frozen rafts of brown meat and potatoes. Once he had provided instructions on the care and feeding of his son, Divyesh withdrew. He worked long hours at a software company and was usually not home until after nine. He seemed pleased to find a clean house when he arrived, but his expression when he saw Sahana was always mildly puzzled, as though he’d arrived to find the furniture had been moved just slightly.

I am happy with this story, though I feared as soon as it printed that everyone would immediately read it and find it obvious that I have never lived in San Francisco, never been to India, and never seen the parrots of Telegraph Hill. However, thus far it's gotten good reactions from a few people who've spent a lot of time in India, and if the parrots find their minor role in the story offensive, I haven't gotten any nasty emails from them yet.

Thanks to the ALR for taking this story. I'm happy to find Sahana some space.  

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