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Forgetting English: Stories

Forgetting English: Stories [Kindle Edition]

Midge Raymond
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product 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

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 190 KB
  • Print Length: 120 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Eastern Washington University Press; First edition (2 Feb 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002GWV0L8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #771,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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 Press, the book was reissued in a new, expanded edition in 2011 by Press 53. Midge's stories have appeared in TriQuarterly, Redivider, 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 three 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Forgetting English... 8 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some good stories here, a mix of exotic locations, and unusual human encounters! Got it free, whiled away an hour or so...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A genuine delight... 7 July 2009
By Ryan R. Asmussen - Published on
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.

"The Road to Hana"
The symbolic story. If you stripped this one down to its barest essentials, you could make a neat Freudian dream out of it.

"Forgetting English"
"[W]ords hiss and snap in her ears..." Again, we've got a nice dichotomy set up in this book between language-as-barrier and language-as-communication, and the cultural/linguistic divide. In these stories, women are in foreign lands with foreign men, and both aspects of foreignness provide transitional opportunities.

"Rest of World"
You can feel the spin of jet lag on this one. The pairing of the two 'how-to' books I found really funny, and sadly poignant.

"Beyond the Kopjes"
One of my favorite sentences lives here: "Then she lies awaiting sleep, staring up at the ghostlike shroud of the mosquito net, feeling trapped and weighed down, even though it hangs far above her, so sheer and light that it flutters in the ceiling fan's breeze." Well, that's life, isn't it? A simple affair, really, when you see it for what it is, instead of what we cling to believing it is. I think there's quite a lot of that feeling in the book. The difference between, for example, the way the animals in the story understand what to do with life, and what the spectators/tourists understand.

"Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean"
Being is acting, acting is being. When you do both well, you do neither. But this is what, in part, the protagonist experiences, as I read it, and what the book points to: that we are travelers even inside our own skins. That the idea of 'foreign' is only an idea, not the reality of things. We can either act or be. Other lands can reveal to ourselves who we are only if we stop our acting, and instead embrace the foreign inside of us. This may sound a little metaphysical/New Age-y, but I see it here in these stories. Cody's right: you CAN turn your back on the ocean if you accept your part of it (or its part of you) and realize the lack of real difference.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Stories...Sucked Me Right In! 9 Feb 2009
By Amy R. Drescher - Published on
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short story collection WORTH reading! 19 Feb 2009
By Sean Farley - Published on
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just beautiful 11 Feb 2009
By J. Miner - Published on
Sublime and transformative. Pick this one up and just let Raymond take you away to these wonderful places. A real triumph. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection of short stories 17 Feb 2012
By S. Warfield - Published on
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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