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Forgetting English: Stories [Kindle Edition]

Midge Raymond
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.99

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Book Description

Winner of the 2007 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction

Forgetting English explores the indelible imprint of home upon identity and the ways in which new frontiers both defy and confirm it. From a biologist navigating the icy moonscape of Antarctica to a businesswoman seeking refuge in the South Pacific, the characters who inhabit these stories travel for business and for pleasure, out of duty and in search of freedom, and each comes face-to-face with the unexpected.

Midge Raymond’s short fiction has been featured in the Los Angeles Times magazine, American Literary Review, North American Review, the Ontario Review, Witness, and others. She holds an MA from Boston University’s College of Communication, where she taught for six years, and has also worked as an editor and copywriter. She now lives in Seattle, where she teaches at Richard Hugo House.

Praise for Forgetting English:

“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

“The short-story collection Forgetting English by Seattle writer Midge Raymond transports the reader by closely observing characters' routine gestures and affect, and with carefully chosen material details which inform without contrivance. 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, less because of lyrical language and more due to things that work as both literal and symbolic nouns: stolen rings, voice-mail messages gone astray; heavy-footed humans in the middle of fragile habitats. … This isn't Chick Lit. Raymond has an unusual ability (not unlike writer Jim Harrison in his early fiction) to create utterly female or decidedly male characters who feel like kindred spirits regardless of where the reader sits on the gender continuum.” --The Seattle Times

“When you forget English, you might learn to speak the forbidden language of your sister’s Tongan lover--you might find you understand the sweet murmur of the Gentoo and the ecstatic cry of Emperor Penguins. . . . Midge Raymond’s stories are a revelation and a delight, a journey from the frozen desert at the bottom of the world to the lush rainforest of Hawai’i. Prepare yourself to think in Chinese, to start over, to reveal your worst crime and discover you are a stranger to yourself, born again into a world where all things become wondrous and new, terrifying and possible.”
—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Sweet Hearts and Iona Moon

“Midge Raymond’s exquisitely written stories turn on relationships, and not just of one kind—between lovers, yes, but also within families, between sisters, among friends, or forged in chance encounters with strangers— and the turning often occurs in moments when the utterly mundane has abruptly conjured itself into crisis. . . . Raymond’s eye for telling detail is very fine, as one expects of an accomplished writer, but to this she adds the informing eye of a natural historian of place. ”
—John Keeble, author of Nocturnal America

“Midge Raymond turns her elegant, austere sentences precisely, forcing unmediated, intimate connection with readers of her exotic tales. It's nothing short of style-alchemy, spare tales and lean words and stark characters sculpted so articulately they whisper the secrets of pure language itself. Forgetting English is well-named, a text informed by aesthetic convictions, recognizable people, alien circumstances, sentences that bind reader to writer, finally a composer's offering of untranslatable but realized emotion. Raymond will be noticed; she's written at a height of elegance and authenticity that no teacher can quite bestow, but that any reader will feel. Forgetting English reminds us why we read new writers.”
--Mark Kramer, Founding Director and Writer-in-Residence, Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism, Harvard University

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

Product Details

  • File Size: 190 KB
  • Print Length: 120 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Eastern Washington University Press; First edition (February 2, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002GWV0L8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,110 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A genuine delight... 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Stories...Sucked Me Right In! February 8, 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A short story collection WORTH reading! February 19, 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection of short stories 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
5.0 out of 5 stars This author will soon become one of your favorites. December 26, 2009
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Wow
I always know when a short story has hit the spot when I say Oh Wow at the end. Each and every story in this book had its own charm and that wonderful twist at the end. Read more
Published on October 26, 2012 by Joan
5.0 out of 5 stars Every story in this collection is superb
I would not be able to select a favorite story from this collection because each one is exquisite in its own way. Read more
Published on April 22, 2012 by Athene Five
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
I really enjoyed all the short stories in this book. They're extremely well written and thought provoking. Read more
Published on February 29, 2012 by ruby
5.0 out of 5 stars a writer's writer
This is a remarkable collection by a true writer's writer. I delayed finishing the book over a few weeks so I could savor each story. Read more
Published on September 19, 2011 by Upper Valley Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful collection
Raymond's spare and graceful prose are a total delight. Her stories welcome you in and make you think. I highly recommend this impressive collection.
Published on December 2, 2010 by Gentle Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
This book is unforgettable! Forgetting English is tenderly written to guide its reader of fully engaging themselves in exotic locations and emotions. Read more
Published on October 18, 2010 by Hae Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars A Traveler's Dream
I read Midge Raymond's Forgetting English on the train ride from Bellingham to Portland. I love that train ride no matter what, but having Midge Raymond's lyrical and smart voice... Read more
Published on April 28, 2010 by Brenda Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't decide which was my favorite
I don't like short stories -- Reading one is like a fantastic date that ends when the man says, "I'm moving to Antarctica. You'll never see me again." What? Read more
Published on February 25, 2010 by W. Swyt
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary
Forgetting English by Midge Raymond is a striking, suspenseful collection of
stories. The writing is extraordinary as are the insights into the human condition. Read more
Published on October 4, 2009 by SteveDykes
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Short Stories to be Savored
Forgetting English by Midge Raymond is an exquisite thematic collection of short stories. The stories describe women in exterior and interior transit. Read more
Published on September 24, 2009 by LegalBeagle
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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. 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


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