Wylene Dunbar My Life with Corpses

ISBN 13: 9780151010158

My Life with Corpses

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My Life with Corpses blends a sharply defined reality with a soaring leap of imagination in the story of an enigmatic narrator we know only as Oz, a Kansas girl raised by a family
of dead people.

Oz tells how she survived her childhood only to face new dangers: the terrible risks of having feelings and the discovery that her family were not the only dead people walking around
looking as if they were alive.

Author of the award-winning Margaret Cape,Wylene Dunbar has written a novel that looks into our hearts and souls with intelligence, humor, and, finally, wisdom.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

A native of Kansas, WYLENE DUNBAR has taught philosophy and practiced law. A longtime resident of Oxford, Mississippi, she currently lives in Nevada City, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

THE CEMETERY

Winfield Evan Stark is missing from his grave and in his place is my book. At least that is what an entire community of plainspoken, common sensible Kansas farmers has come to believe, that a man's cof?n and the body in it have vanished, interred in their stead a "brand-spanking-new" copy of a book (an account, really) I wrote some years ago. Of course, I came here at once- to Laurel Cemetery, I mean-and that is where I am writing this. It is quite clear, you see, that Mr. Stark wishes that much of me, and when a man has rescued you from both corpses and corpsedom, a great deal is owed.

I have some company. My old dog, Annie, lies beside me, and across the cemetery, the diggers are here to work, but I mean the company of those persons watching from outside the ?eld wire fence. They have gathered from a clutch of six or seven since my arrival yesterday to nearly a dozen early this morning, and the number is growing. They watch me at Mr. Stark's empty grave and when I tour the other headstones-all the while as solemn as if they were here on the usual business. Once, I approached them to exchange greetings, but they spooked and backed away. My power to frighten these good people remains undiminished. There was a little stir earlier, too, when they saw I was holding the book, the very copy found in lieu of the old man's body and given to me last evening by Evan Crews. It was Evan, as well, who called me a week ago to say that his late grandfather had disappeared and to ask, very delicately I must admit, whether I knew where he might have gone.

"I don't know," I lied, and then corrected myself to say, "It is dif?cult to tell," the more usual case with what is so. While I did not know Mr. Stark's particular whereabouts, you see, neither was it true to say that I knew nothing of them at all. Half-truth is a special skill of mine, my life having required more of it than is usual.

But that was last week. What I write you now is not a ?ction or even half-true but, instead, the whole of what I know, if long concealed. I have done with lying and, despite the perils that telling may present, even God's holding a ?nger to the divine lips would be insuf?cient to dissuade me from it. Just as before, you may not believe me, but that is no matter. I have appreciated for some time that what is right and true is rarely even given a pat as it trots by while the ?imsiest lie is welcomed indoors, where it can take a community by the throat and never let go.

Still, knowing is not without its shortcomings and you might rather remain ignorant. If so, I will understand. Think of it as a war-it is almost that-where others will ?ght the battles for you. For my part, I will tell the truth and fervently hope that it is the wise, not wrong, act. The Holy Bible tells us, after all, that "wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good."

Now, as you may recall, this is what I wrote you then: You have heard the story of the boy who was raised by wolves. There were consequences: he did not learn to walk upright in the usual way; his vocal abilities were stunted. Or different, at least-the vocal chords being used to bay and howl at a time other little boys were mimicking consonants. He was not, did not, become a wolf of course. But who can doubt the alternate perspective this child, then man, forever possessed- was possessed by-as a result of his upbringing?

My story is much the same. I was not raised by wolves, but I was born into a family of corpses: parents and a sister who, at different times, had left the world of the living. I think my father was the last to die and, in fact, it is only because he was still twitching in the aftermath of death when I came along that I suspected human beings might be capable of living at all. Otherwise, my early brushes with vitality were only through the creatures populating our small farm-the dogs, the cattle, pigs and horses, and the wild animals-that continuously drew my father. He brought home raccoon babies, box turtles, a pair of owlets, jackrabbits, cotton-tails by the score. We would, he and I, thrill to touch them (here, I am speaking metaphorically; the dead, technically, do not thrill); and we would care for them as we con?ned them and prevented their escape.

Even so, I had some notion early on that all was not as it should be in my family. I speci?cally do not say, please note, that I felt the wrongness. That is just the point. There was no feeling, or very little. It is well known that dead people do not feel, either tactilely or in their hearts-by which I mean "emotions." I was not dead so I suppose I could have felt something, but I was like the wolf boy. Who could expect him to stride manfully on his two legs when all he saw around him were four-legged beasts? He would eventually come to something like that, perhaps, but why should it ever occur to him to do it in the beginning?

But I am straying from my purpose, which is to sit here and to write down, in an orderly fashion, "what it is like" to be raised by corpses. I choose to do this now for sel?sh reasons. I am often besieged with questions about my upbringing by the curious or even by professional persons interested in making me an object of their research. Leaving my of?ce today and putting my dog Maggie in the car, I was again approached by a total stranger intent on eliciting some previously untold information from me. My hope is that if I set it all down here for everybody to see and digest at leisure, these constant and disturbing probes will mostly cease. If so, my most pressing concern and burden will be made lighter. I need to concentrate now and to concentrate I must be left alone much of the time. If I do not concentrate-and I am convinced absolutely that this is so-I will die.
Copyright © 2004 by Wylene Dunbar

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Book Description Condition: New. Ships From Canada. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 319 p. Audience: General/trade. Book Description My Life with Corpses blends a sharply defined reality with a soaring leap of imagination in the story of an enigmatic narrator we know only as Oz, a Kansas girl raised by a family of dead people. Oz tells how she survived her childhood only to face new dangers: the terrible risks of having feelings and the discovery that her family were not the only dead people walking around looking as if they were alive. Author of the award-winning Margaret Cape, Wylene Dunbar has written a novel that looks into our hearts and souls with intelligence, humor, and, finally, wisdom. About the Author A native of Kansas, WYLENE DUNBAR has taught philosophy and practiced law. A longtime resident of Oxford, Mississippi, she currently lives in Nevada City, California. Seller Inventory # 9246313683

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