Calamity and Other Stories
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Twelve luminous stories alive with friendship and secrets introduce a remarkable writer. Daphne Kalotay’s characters confront regrets and unrealized hopes in tales tinged with gentle humor. A newly independent woman finds herself in bed with an ex-husband of long ago. A little girl gets a surprising glimpse into adulthood when she catches her mother in a moment of uninhibited pleasure. A thirteen-year-old boy contends with the unwanted attentions of a younger girl. And for two older women, a tie formed in their youth sustains them through varied twists of fate. These are dazzling intertwined tales of love, failure, and the comedy of human relationships.
of recommendation had been described as “responsible”—checking her off some mental list. Geoff always completed his objectives swiftly and smartly, which was why the teachers loved him and how he had gotten into Pomona. The teachers loved Mack, too, but in a slightly exasperated way that Mack found comforting. He used to think that their affection for him was due to his mother, who everyone knew had raised him on her own yet attended parent-teacher conferences with none of the belligerence or
basically one of the guys, except that she wasn’t. She was a girl, and this was impossible to ignore, especially when she wore that green knit sweater that was just slightly too small. Tilda was tall, like Mack, with a big, somewhat horsy smile and a mess of reddish hair that she barely bothered to comb. Now that the weather was hot, she kept wearing shorts to school. There had been one steamy day, a year before, when Mack looked over and saw she’d hiked her rayon skirt up above her knees, onto
kitchen supplies. The women went around in short-shorts, halter tops, and Dr. Scholl’s and worked inefficiently. “We need more Dafnas,” Eileen used to joke, referring to the Israeli women living there. They at least got work done. Eileen could not bear to watch chores take so much longer than they should, could not even stand to watch the many idle flirtations that went nowhere. “Come on, Dafna,” she’d tease some Danish girl with her wooden sandals kicked off, drying her hair in the sun, and
glass. In what appeared to be a usual pattern, he then said that he wasn’t feeling quite well and should like to return home, and Massi decided to stay over at Vittoria’s. I looked at Massi’s tired face and Vittoria’s bright eyes and realized that my one real reason for being in La Spezia no longer existed. “I have to leave tomorrow,” I told Marcello as we walked into the damp night air. All we could hear were the splashes of waves on rock and the click of my heels on stone. “I’m feeling guilty
her eyes. “See that?” said Rhea. “You thought things were bad, and now you see that it wasn’t so bad after all. So what if the right hydraulic system failed. Maybe it’s worse to have your neighbor saying mean things to you, making a spectacle of the both of us.” “I’m glad you’re able to see that.” “Look at the bright side. We’re heading to the airport, and the plane’s still, miraculously, in the air. Be thankful. Be glad.” “Okay, I will,” said the woman. “Because I’ll tell you something,”