Violet Kupersmith began composing these nine short stories as a student at Mount Holyoke College, inspired by her Vietnamese grandmother's oral traditions (see 'Beyond the Book'). So perhaps there is a trace of herself in the protagonist of the purely dialogical first tale, "Boat Story." An indolent American high school student pesters her grandmother for a juicy account of escaping Vietnam: "your boat person story? Jackpot. Communists! Thai pirates! Starvation! That's an A-plus story." But Grandma tells a ghost story instead: when their houseboat hit a storm, she and her husband saw a half-skeletal figure walking towards them across the sea. The incident left a sense of disaster deferred "On that stormy day the spirits did not take us, but they wrote our names down in their book and we knew they would eventually come collecting." Grandma ends on a rhetorical question: "...
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