Excerpt from Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Among the Ten Thousand Things

A Novel

by Julia Pierpont

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont X
Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2015, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2016, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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Print Excerpt

PART ONE

New York,

the End of May


Dear Deborah,


Do you go by Deborah? It sounds so uptight. I bet you hate Debbie. I hate Debbie, too.

Jack calls you Deb.

This is a letter about Jack.

I began sleeping with your husband last June. We were together for seven months, almost as long as I've known him.

We did it in my apartment. Or I went to his studio, a lot. One time at the Comfort Inn in midtown, last August. He used his Visa. Look it up. I know about Kay, her getting bullied at school, and I know about when Simon got caught shoplifting at the Best Buy. I never asked to know about your family. It's just that sometimes, he needed me.

In movies, when the woman is dumped, one thing to do is to take all the love letters and pictures from photo booths and old T-shirts, and to set them on fire. This is to help the woman move on.

I don't have any pictures from photo booths. What I have is email, and a little blue folder on my hard drive called "Chats." So, look what I did. I printed them, at a FedEx on Houston Street. $87.62. I haven't had my own printer since college. The hours and hours made pages and pages, none of it so romantic, a lot dirtier than I remembered. I bought a handle of Georgi at the liquor store so it would really burn—the Jamaican behind the register gave me extra bags because it was hard to keep the pages together—and I carried everything back, the sum of my love rolled in black-and-gold plastic, and dumped it all out into the bathtub.

But it didn't seem fair, that I should be left with the mess, when I use this tub, when I stand in it almost every day. So I got this box together, to give to him.

And then just now I was looking at it, and I realized whom I should be giving it to. You.

Falling in love is just an excuse for bad behavior. If you're fucking someone in a way that you mean it, the rest of you is fucked also. Did I care about you, your children? Did I care about my work? Ask me if I cared. If I care, even.

The thing that kills me, that I can't get over, is I didn't do anything to make him stop wanting me. I didn't change. I held very still on purpose. I weighed myself the other day for the first time in a long time. I thought for sure I'd gained weight, like twenty pounds. Twenty pounds is maybe enough to change the way someone feels about you. But no.

You get migraines, right? He told me you do. I get them too, Deb. Do you think maybe it's him? That the migraines are coming from him? Like if we drank the same dirty water and got cancer, or if we both lived a block from 9/11 and got cancer, or if we did anything the same and got cancer, then we'd trace it to the source, right, and expect a settlement, wouldn't we. What are you settling for, Deb? How much did you get?




There were things you learned early, growing up in the city, and there were things you learned late, or not at all. Bicycles were one of the things Kay had missed, along with tree swings and car pools, dishwashers and game rooms in the basement. The only style of swimming Kay knew was the style of not drowning, any direction but down. Instead of a dog, they had a cat, and before that a cockatiel and a cockatoo, sea monkeys, lizards, gerbils that made more gerbils, one regrettable guinea pig.

She made up for what she'd missed with things New York had taught her. Like how long you had to walk after the DON'T WALK started to blink. The way to hail a cab (hand out but still, fingers together). She knew where to stand in an elevator depending on how many people were on it already, when to hold the poles on the subway and when it was okay just to let go and glide. She knew how to be surrounded by people and not meet anybody's eye.

Excerpted from Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont. Copyright © 2015 by Julia Pierpont. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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