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Forgetting English Paperback – January 1, 2009

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Parts of these polished stories, if read aloud, would sound like a smart patient describing a dream to a psychoanalyst. Raymond's prose often lights up the poetry-circuits of the brain... --The Seattle Times

All of her stories are heartbreakingly honest ... I wouldn't be surprised if she started getting compared to Alice Munro or Jhumpa Lahiri. --Seattle Books Examiner

Raymond's style of writing is engaging, her locations exotic, her endings are often resonant and deftly written, and what her stories express about travel and exploration is honest and forthright. --The Short Review

Raymond has quiet, unrelenting control over the writing; each story is compelling and thrives because each detail and line of dialogue reveals just a little more about the characters and the evocative settings. --The Rumpus

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Eastern Washington University (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597660469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597660464
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,524,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Midge Raymond's short-story collection, Forgetting English, received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Originally published by Eastern Washington University, the book has been reissued in an expanded edition by Press 53. Her articles and stories have appeared in TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, Poets & Writers, and many other publications. Her debut novel, MY LAST CONTINENT, is forthcoming from Scribner in 2016.

Midge worked in publishing in New York before moving to Boston, where she taught communication writing at Boston University for six years. She has taught creative writing at Boston's Grub Street Writers, Seattle's Richard Hugo House, and San Diego Writers, Ink. She has also published two books for writers, Everyday Writing and Everyday Book Marketing.

Midge lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is co-founder of the boutique publisher Ashland Creek Press. Visit her online at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ryan R. Asmussen on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The following story breakdowns (no spoilers) have been edited from a private e-mail written by me and adapted to fit this forum... R.A.

"First Sunday"
I read the first sentence of this story and got a big kick out of it. What a fine way to begin a collection, with that sure touch of character placement as well as humor. This one got me on, if I may call it, a 'linguistic level,' in that its concerns with language (as evidenced in part by the section headings) felt very real to me. I like the positioning of this story re the collection because it sets up the reader thematically. And on that note, I appreciated that theme aspect, too; that here we have a range of tones and keys, but that certain melodies come back again and again.

"Translation Memory"
This one is among my favorites. The text shifts back and forth between words, as Raymond writes, "liminal(ly)." Last few lines very strong. Playwrights talk about 'curtain lines' -- the crucial last line at the end of an act or play -- and there are some great ones in this collection.

"The Ecstatic Cry"
I feel that this one might be the 'strongest' story in the collection. Let me define 'strongest' (smile): the most artful and real blending of fact and fiction, of style and substance, of concretism and absolutism. I keep thinking of the idea of the signature story. We hate to sum up authors, but it is a challenge and kind of fun, too. This one may be it. It begins with "I stifle an urge to start cleaning it up." Right away, we're dropped into the mystery as to why. And then it keeps pushing you forward, not only into odd physical terrain, but also into odd psychological terrain. I think the first-person helps establish a firmer reality to make the fantastic even more grounded.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amy R. Drescher on February 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! I could not put it down, and neglected my family and my job while I plowed through it. Each piece was so entertaining and the characters and scenes so well-developed I was engrossed immediately. I was disappointed when each story ended, but the next one grabbed me right away. I hope this author writes a novel next. I'd love to sink my teeth into a longer Raymond book. If you liked Jumpa Lahiri's stories, you'll love these. They're set in exotic locations but feature women with stories/situations you'd expect to find among your own friends. This book would make for a great book group discussion--in fact I'm choosing it for my own book club.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sean Farley on February 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
These stories are amazing! Honest. There aren't many writers who can gather the intricacies of the human condition and make them interesting. The title story is...breathtaking. I can easily see it transformed into a film. "The Road to Hana" and "First Sunday" capture what I love most in stories -- the conflicts people find within themselves and the small, inner tortures they don't quite know how to deal with! A great collection; I can't wait to see a full-length work from Raymond. Soon, I hope!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Warfield on February 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Midge Raymond's collection of short stories, "Forgetting English: Stories" is a very literary and fine look into the lives of people who are traveling to other countries for various reasons. Some are there for work while others are vacationing and a wife or two accompanies her husband on a business trip. A good sampling of the globe is included in the destinations of the characters. Antarctica, Japan, China, Hawaii, Tonga and the Serengeti are some of the places that characters find themselves.

The characters in the stories are very real and experience the problems of humans everywhere. A wife has a secret that she has kept from her husband for all of their married life and he's shocked when it comes out in the open, but on the other hand, he has his own little gem to reveal to her. A woman studying penguins in Anarctica realizes that perhaps the ways of the penguins aren't so different from our own.

In the story, "First Sunday" Melanie goes to Tonga to visit her sister, Cheryl, who was in the Peace Corps and has decided to stay on Tonga and lives a very simple life. Cheryl isn't especially happy to see her sister since she left home and only went back when her family flew her back one Christmas. Melanie says, "She seemed to have forgotten where she came from; she muttered to herself in Tongan and ate with her fingers until she caught one of us giving her a look." After that she told her family that she wasn't coming back home again.

These stories have the same theme that runs through them and ties them together even though they may take place thousands of miles from one another. The problems that plague the characters are the same wherever they are, and they teach us that humanity is about the same wherever we go. I very much enjoyed these short stories and look forward to reading more by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Poppy J. on December 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Readers will get more than just a lift from this book. The venues are unfamiliar, with stories from Tonga, Taipei, Hawai'i the Serengeti and even Antarctica. The names are also not within our realm of imagination, with characters, animals and places tagged like nothing we have ever read before. But the author uses simple themes to get and keep our attention, and the book is one that once picked up, will be hard to put down.

Even for people who consider themselves world travelers, this collection of short stories has a few exotic surprises. The author is able to describe and detail relationships, from the bottom up and from the inside out. The characters are easily seen as if a person living the life, in real time, would see them. The conversations between the characters are real too, and are reminiscent of conversations we have all had at one time or another. The themes are clearly thought out, with many of them highlighting a person who has to live with herself, and coming to terms with what image others think she has become.

Many of the stories leave the reader with more questions to ask, than are actually answered. Most of the stories deserve a sequel, since after reading them, we always want more information. For anyone considering reading this book, I suggest that it is read the way you eat your favorite meal. Stop to consider how lucky you really are after each tasty morsel. And once finished, revel in the memory of how great it was while you were eating it.
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