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Dark Matter: Stories by Stephen Shugart
Dark Matter: Stories
$15.54
Paperback
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • Dec.15.2009
  • 9781432746285
  • Outskirts Press

Stephen gives an overview of the book:

Inventive and unsettling, the stories of Stephen Shugart exist in their own hybrid dimension of the familiar and fabulous.  Their reach in subject matter is matched by the range of the book’s compelling characters: a man who claims he’s so in love that he can endure putting his face in a table saw; a woman married nine times who can make love happen at will.  Time and space here become touchstones of articulated and resonant longings for connection and wholeness.  Dark Matter is an exciting and eclectic collection that will jolt you awake.  – Steven Schwartz, author of Therapy and A Good Doctor’s Son. Dark Matter: Stories is a powerful depiction of imagination experienced, a poignant exploration of the intersection of reality and dream and the tenuous division we endeavor to force between them. Shugart’s excellent collection boldly attempts to “peel back the darkness...
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Inventive and unsettling, the stories of Stephen Shugart exist in their own hybrid dimension of the familiar and fabulous.  Their reach in subject matter is matched by the range of the book’s compelling characters: a man who claims he’s so in love that he can endure putting his face in a table saw; a woman married nine times who can make love happen at will.  Time and space here become touchstones of articulated and resonant longings for connection and wholeness.  Dark Matter is an exciting and eclectic collection that will jolt you awake.  – Steven Schwartz, author of Therapy and A Good Doctor’s Son.

Dark Matter: Stories is a powerful depiction of imagination experienced, a poignant exploration of the intersection of reality and dream and the tenuous division we endeavor to force between them. Shugart’s excellent collection boldly attempts to “peel back the darkness,” to pull back the “invisible drapes that won’t open,” and in so doing, these stories take swipes at the nothingness of modern life and middle-class values, the desperation of Alzheimer’s and divorce, as well as the conflicts and complexities of culture and class, all the while weaving an irresistible narrative that finds glimpses of redemption and light amid the dark matter of our lives. – Robert Gray, author of Drew: Poems from Blue Water and I Wish That I Were Langston Hughes.

Read an excerpt »

Inertia

 

            Hi there, Stuart. Welcome to Memory Magic™ once again. It’s another beautiful day, isn’t it, Stuart? After today’s exercise, you will have already completed fifteen percent of this mind-expanding program designed especially for seniors just like you, Stuart.  In this exercise, you will match colors much like in the television game show, Jeopardy! However, it will proceed more rapidly, and without any bothersome commercials;).  If you are not familiar or cannot remember Jeopardy, well, you can still do this exercise, easily and effortlessly, can you not? 

Please click on one of the eighteen squares in this grid, which will reveal an exciting color like mauve, puce, magenta, saffron, ochre, or cerulean. It will open briefly, like eyelids, which is an innovative subliminal concept developed by our instructional design team, just as you have suspected. Today’s exercise will stimulate many parts of your brain, breaking down that pesky brain plaque that, as you know, forms in the absence of wide-ranging cognitive activity. Now, if you will, please click on “Continue,” at the bottom right corner of your screen. You must complete this exercise in 10 minutes, that’s all. Remember there is no failure, only feedback, Stuart.

Stuart Memmot, Ph.D. sighed. He’d always promised himself that he would kill himself if he ever found out that he had Alzheimer’s. Both his father and mother had suffered from it, and it had taken twelve good years out of his life, caring for each, watching them deteriorate, first his mother and then his father, and they left him with a house full of crap that he had to sell, in addition to an inordinate number of papers he had to put in order, since they had no will. So several weeks after his father’s funeral, when his wife Diane was at a conference of cello teachers in Santa Fe, on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon, with colorful leaves and the pungent scent of death and decay in the air, he had secretly purchased a Colt .38 Special at Dick’s sporting goods store and carefully hid it. 

Sitting through so many evenings in front of the TV and during Sunday brunches of lime jello, cottage cheese salads and soggy salmon at the special care center, he had been utterly miserable with impatience, guilt, and obligation. On several occasions at the home, when he was alone with his dad lost in his dementia, trying to make conversation with the leftover vapor of his father’s mind, Stuart, in fact, told him directly to his face, as he gazed emptily at him, that he was not going to spend his final years shuffling around mindlessly in pajamas like him, not knowing who he was, weeping and cursing spontaneously and spending entire afternoons trying to determine whether the coin in his hand was a nickel, dime, or quarter. And he was not going to leave his wife, Diane, and his two children, Mark and Sylvia, with the same emotional burdens and serious expenses his parents carelessly left for him, and now he wanted to find his gun, which was somewhere, still in the box, unopened.

Congratulations, Stuart, you have successfully completed another Memory Magic™ exercise. You scored ninety-two percent, which indicates a good level of cognition for the “condition.” Please notify your doctor to update your records on our website, if you haven’t already done so this week. We have not yet received the new data. Of course, you could have done better, Stuart, and the gun is still an option if you act quickly. We can only help to stave off this dis-ease for so long, you know. Unfortunately, this Memory Magic™ program cannot help you remember where the gun is, but perhaps you put it in the garage?

Your Memory Magic™ program has been tested extensively and proven to extend your memory and cognition for as long as possible. It is mostly dependent on how much effort you put into it on a consistent basis. As you continue to do your exercises regularly, the magic of our program is that it works at an unconscious level to reduce brain plaque formation and keep your brain as flexible and supple as, well, a ballerina.

(Cont'd )

stephen-shugart's picture

Note from the author coming soon...

About Stephen

Stephen Shugart has published short stories in Paraspheres, Colorado Review, Madison Review, Aim, and other literary publications. He is the author of the short story collection, Dark Matter, available at...

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