Ann Beattie, winner of $30,000 Rea Award for short story writing, reads 'Coping Stones'
Demonstrating the style and angst that made her famous, Ann Beattie read her most recently published New Yorker short story, Coping Stones (September 12, 2005 issue), to an appreciative audience at the University of New Hampshire one week before she was awarded the $30,000 Rea Prize for her body of work in short story writing. In Coping Stones, Beattie brings to life Dr. Cahill who is coping with life after the death of his wife, whom, he confides to a neighbor, he did not love, when he receives a Code Enforcement notice and a visit from a man he has dubbed You Got No Choice, who informs him that his friend and tenant, Matt, has been arrested for child-molesting. When the police arrive to investigate, Cahill learns that Matt had got into an altercation in prison and been stabbed 'with a homemade shiv.' Sorting through his failed relationship with his wife and his weight-lifting, steroid-popping daughter, his building code violation, and the new porch he is planning to build with Roadie, the carpenter, to expand his life, he visits his wife's grave, which, he discovers in horror, has been desecrated, he believes at first, by his neighbor's dog, Napoleon. Grabbing the dog by the collar and dragging him to the grave, Cahill realizes Napoleon's innocence and asks for forgiveness. After the reading, Beattie took questions from the audience and discussed character and point-of-view, the story's structure and her writing process.
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