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  Mary Burger
Mary Burger's book Sonny, a narrative prose work about the Manhattan Project and the failures of ethical reason, was published in 2005 by Leon Works.
Mary Burger
Previous books include The Boy Who Could Fly (Second Story Books, 2002), Thin Straw That I Suck Life Through (Melodeon, 2000), Eating Belief (pamphlet, Belladonna Books, 2000), Nature's Maw Gives and Gives (Duration Press, 1999), and Bleeding Optimist (Xurban, 1995). Mary is co-editor of Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative (Coach House, 2004), and also co-edits the companion web site Narrativity.

The Narrativity project explores practices around the intersection of theoretically-informed narrative and "outlaw" subject matter, to provide a forum for narrative experimentalists to develop a critical discourse on their work. Since 1998, Mary has edited Second Story Books, publishing new works of experimental narrative with emphasis on cross-genre writing. An Apparent Event: A Second Story Books Anthology was published in 2006. More info on Mary Burger.

from A Series of Water Disasters



Mary Burger
Blush

We responded to the ubiquitous emergency as if it wasn't happening to us. Our island of pleasure seemed all the more fanciful as we absorbed the continuous updates about the far-away detonations and the dismemberments. Perhaps that was the intention behind the uninterrupted disaster stories, to lull us to complacency in our own comfort. Or perhaps it was only an unintended consequence that it threw our surroundings into sharper focus, as if we'd upgraded to HDTV and all our verdant foliage glowed in a CGI spectacle. Our foods were more savory, our sweets more sumptuous, we congratulated each other on the personal milestones in our lives—marriage, pregnancy, professional advancement—we read each others' lips and shared in carnival laughter that was the only sound to drown out the subtly pulsating high-pitched whine, a modem's signal or perhaps a smoke alarm, a constant intrusive undertone as if the photograph in which we appeared were underprinted in red. The whine gave a consistent center to all our activities, a center line around which the graph of our pulse rose and fell. The whine was there, comfortingly, whenever our attention fell away from other things.

It provided a constant more compelling than the absence around which we usually came together, it provided an activity with which our over-stimulated, underutilized panic response could occupy itself, it made us feel that we were doing something. It made us feel that we knew something important about what was going on. And knowing something important gave our current pleasures more resonance, and our struggles more meaning. There was a larger evil outside of us, this could explain why some things never went right. And it made even more precious the things that did. Here we were, in this shady back yard sharing a meal, when we could have been lying at the side of a road somewhere, dismembered.

We stirred in our sleep, a gigantic baby whose slightest movement disrupts millions.

The blush on the apricots was flawless.

When one of us was quietly bombed and disappeared, the others kept talking, perhaps the pitch of the whine rose a few intervals in one or another's head, this would cause some tightening in the muscles of the temples, maybe followed by closing the eyes and massaging the temples with the thumb and fingers of one hand.



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