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Laury A. Egan
The 23 stories in the collection deal with the metaphorical concept of fog as a state produced by grief, mental illness, love, anger, dementia, pain, prejudice, or dreams and how the human being refracts reality through these diffused prisms. Protagonists struggle with psychological and physical distortions that lead them down problematic paths, whether due to jealousy or desire in the case of lovers or hypothermia experienced by a fallen mountain climber. In the story, “Fog,” set in Ireland, the narrator encounters the real thing.
“Laury Egan has the capacity for human understanding which has always defined the top writers of short fiction. In Fog and Other Stories, she has produced a collection of tales which both entertain and matter to the soul of the reader. I am particularly a fan of “Fergus,” “Split,” and “Jango Jacks,” and now the delight of this entire collection is sure to stay with me, as the best short stories do. Brava!”—T.D. Johnston, Short Story America
“Fog and Other Stories is a mixed-genre collection of rich, provocative tales. From ruminations on the repercussions of time to mind-bending excursions into the supernatural, examinations of cruelty and kindness to incisive relationship studies, Egan’s stories are a satisfying blend of style, plot, and characterization—and exhibit a deep understanding of human nature.”—Greg Miller, author of Scaring the Crows and The Uncanny Valley: Tales from a Lost Town
Paperback: 256 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 inches. $12.95 plus S&H
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The Mime (Copyright Laury A. Egan, 2012)
While sipping a murky espresso at a wine bar, Leah surveyed the crowd of men standing, smoking, and reading newspapers and felt unbearably American. Excusing herself, she edged past two arguing tradesmen to a place by the open door where she could study the elegant Venetian women walking by on their way to work. Leah observed their clothes, jewelry, and hairstyles. Why didn’t the skirt and sexy blouse she’d purchased yesterday make her look more chic? Or disguise her nationality? But to her chagrin, just a minute ago, the waiter had returned her “buon giorno” with “good morning.” They always did.
Leah watched as the sun rose higher, its rays illuminating the myriad detours of the calli and flooding over street stalls, shops, and pedestrians. Across the campo, vendors were hawking brightly colored scarves, blown-glass pens, feathered carnival masks, blue fans printed with Venetian scenes, and purple velvet jester caps festooned with gold balls. The tourists were buying this kitsch, but she wasn’t tempted. Leah wanted something else, though she didn’t know what.
She finished her coffee, stepped outside, and plunged into the human swarm wending toward the Rialto Bridge. On Largo Mazzini, a street running perpendicular to the Grand Canal, she avoided a wooden cart by backing up against a building. As she did so, Leah noticed a mime across the street. He was standing on a box, one arm raised, one arm lowered. Every inch of him was molten gold, as if he had been dipped in a vat and placed in position to dry. From the cloak with the padded high collar surrounding his neck, to his face, hands, feet, hair, sandals, and the tightly rolled scarf around his forehead, the mime glistened. Leah stared at his perfect mouth, which was tucked with amusement at the corners; at his ears, neat and swept back like his cheekbones; and at his large blue eyes fixed on some point in space.
The mime was the most radiant being she’d ever seen. Leah elbowed through the tourists until she stood before him, below the level of his vision. A gold top hat lay at his feet, upturned for donations. She rooted around in her wallet and placed a generous contribution inside. He swiveled slowly toward her, leaned down, and placed a gold hand over his heart, tapping his chest twice. For the briefest instant, his eyes met hers and sparkled with astonishing intensity. He froze for half a minute before returning to his position, arms extended.
Leah was mesmerized. The golden body was carved sculpture, blessed with the serenity of inanimateness, yet standing near him, she felt waves of magnetism pulling her forward. If only she could touch the mime, could create a connection that would transfuse his joy into her. In some inexplicable way, Leah craved him.