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
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. Midge is also the author of Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life, and Everyday Book Marketing: Promotion Ideas to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life.
Midge's stories have appeared in TriQuarterly, Redivider, Bellingham Review, American Literary Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, and many other publications. Her work has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes and received an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship.
Midge taught communication writing at Boston University for six years, and she has taught creative writing at Boston's Grub Street Writers and Seattle's Richard Hugo House. While living in Southern California, she held writing workshops and seminars at San Diego Writers, Ink, where she also served as vice president of the board of directors.
Midge lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her online at www.MidgeRaymond.com.
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.Read more ›
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.
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!
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.
This book is unforgettable! Forgetting English is tenderly written to guide its reader of fully engaging themselves in exotic locations and emotions. Its gently crafted storytelling provokes contemplation of man's flaws and hopeful redemption. It stirs reflections of one's own life and the choices we've made in our own past. The characters skirt around the gray matter of joy and pain, daring the reader to resist the temptation of judging their stories as those whispered by our own friends. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the adventurous nature of the heart.