Forgetting English by Midge Raymond
This is another book I read last year but didn’t have time to write about. This story collection won The Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, but before the prize sponsor, Eastern Washington University Press, could publish the book, they folded. (The prize is now sponsored by Willow Springs Books.) But somehow, the author was put in touch with Press 53, and they brought the book out in 2011. It’s a terrific collection. (You can buy the book directly from Press 53 by going here.)
These are my kind of stories, set all over the world. “First Sunday,” the book’s opening story, takes place in Tonga where one of the characters has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (another reason the story appeals to me). “Translation Memory” is set in Japan. “The Road to Hana” takes place in Hawaii. Taiwan is the setting for the title story, “Forgetting English.” “Rest of the World” follows its main character from San Francisco to Taipei to Tokyo. “Under Limestone Cliffs” takes the reader to Thailand, “Beyond the Kopjes” goes to Tanzania, “Lost Art” lands in Australia, and “Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean” brings us back to Hawaii.
But it was the collection’s third story, “The Ecstatic Cry,” that first brought the book to my attention. In 2014 I was putting together an anthology, Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, also published by Press 53, and received the story from Midge as a submission to consider. I loved it. The story is set in Antarctica and involves a romance between two researchers who are stationed there. “The Ecstatic Cry” is now the opening story in Everywhere Stories.
It should also be noted that Midge has gone on to write a novel about the main character in that story, and My Last Continent will be coming out soon from Simon & Schuster.