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Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

Lily King has another superb collection of stories.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Lily King is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels: The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, Father of the Rain, Euphoria, and Writers and Lovers.  Her latest book is Five Tuesdays in Winter.

Mitchel’s daughter, who was twelve, accused him of loving his books but hating his customers. He didn’t hate them. He just didn’t like having to chat with them or lead them to very clearly marked sections—if they couldn’t read signs, why were they buying books?—while they complained that nothing was arranged by title. He would like to have a bouncer at the door, a man with rippled neck who turned people away or quietly remove them when they revealed too much ignorance.

His daughter loved the customers. She sat behind the counter at the cash drawer every Saturday, writing up receipts in an illegible imitation of his own microscopic hand and chatting like an innkeeper. She was two tall and two sophisticated for a Maine preteen. She made them uneasy. She had recently learned the word ‘reticent’ and used it on him constantly. // Isn’t he the most reticent person you’ve ever met?’ she asked Kate, his only other employee. // ‘That’s enough, Paula,’ he said, then feeling an unexpected pulse of blood to his cheeks, fled to the stock room in back. //

Mitchel had good ears, and just before he shut the door behind him, he heard Kate’s gentle reprimand: I think as a rule people don’t like being spoken of in the third person.’ // He’d hired Kate three months ago. She’d recently moved to Portland from San Francisco for a man named Lincoln. They lived in a small apartment in Bayside.

On their answering machine, Lincoln sounded high-strung and full of anticipation, as if he only expected good news after the beep. Despite her strong resume, Kate had unexpected gaps in her knowledge of books. She had never read The Leopard or The Go-Between. […] Once he overheard a customer ask how many lines were in a sestina, and she didn’t know. She was a reader (she borrowed and returned as many as ten books a week) but not a speller. […]

At the end of the day, when she stapled the credit card receipts to the ticker tape totals, she didn’t always align the edges evenly. She let the mechanical pencils run out of lead. She had thin, sometimes dry lips she picked at when she was thinking deeply and that he would have liked to kiss. //

Lily King is a talented writer. Her stories are interesting and bound to get you looking out for all her works. 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!