Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge
Little Brown
Peter Orner
“Spokane”
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“Spokane” is from Peter Orner’s story collection Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, (Little Brown), which was selected as an Amazon Book of the Month.  Peter Orner’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, and McSweeney’s.

 

His stories have been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice won a Pushcart Prize.   His first collection, Esther Stories, was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a Finalist for the Pen Hemingway Award.  and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award.

 

Orner talked about how he came to write this story:  I remember driving through Spokane Washington in the deadest part of the night. This was years ago. Maybe the mid 1990’s. I didn’t stop. I don’t even remember where I was heading. Montana from California or the other way around, a drive I’ve done many times.

 

Usually I go right by Spokane, but that night – it must have been three or four in the morning – I got off I-90 and wandered up and down the hilly streets of the sleeping city. Hard to explain but I got a weird but good feeling from the place, a kind of darkness laced with warmth. I don’t know how else to describe it. I felt at home in a place I’d never lived. I think it reminded me of other cities I’ve known and come to love, underdog cities that have seen better days but keep fighting it out: Fall River, Massachusetts, Davenport, Iowa, Stockton, California.

 

As for where Stace’s voice came from, and Edward’s dark, sad story itself, god knows. And since I don’t believe in god (most days) I’m not sure anybody knows. A voice just starts talking in my ear. I do know that Stace began with the simple line, “If I tell you something, will you listen?” What choice did I have?

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