9780385340144

No One You Know

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780385340144

  • ISBN10:

    0385340141

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-05-19
  • Publisher: Bantam
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Summary

The author of the luminous work "The Year of Fog" returns with an intensely emotional, multilayered family drama--a woman's search for her sister's killer that spirals into a journey of secrets, revelations, and damaged lives.

Author Biography

Michelle Richmond is the author of The Year of Fog, Dream of the Blue Room, and The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. Her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, Playboy, The Oxford American, and elsewhere. She has been a James Michener Fellow, and her fiction has received the Associated Writing Programs Award and the Mississippi Review Prize. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Michelle lives with her husband and son in San Francisco, where she is at work on her next novel.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts

Chapter One


 When I found him at last, I had long ago given up the search. It was late at night, and I was dining alone in a small cafe in Diriomo, Nicaragua. It was a place I had come to cherish during my annual visits to the village, the kind of establishment where one could order a plate of beans and a cup of coffee any time of the day or night.

I had spent the evening wandering the dark, empty streets. July days in Diriomo were scorching; come nightfall, the buildings seemed to radiate heat, so that the air possessed a baked, dusty scent. Eventually I came to the familiar intersection. Going left would lead to my hotel, with its hard bed and uncooperative ceiling fan. Straight ahead was a baseball diamond where I had once seen a local kid beat a rat to death with an old wooden bat. To the right was a wide road giving way to a crooked alleyway, at the end of which the cafe beckoned.

Some time past midnight, I stood on the doorstep, ringing the little copper bell. Maria appeared, dressed in a long blue skirt, white blouse, and no shoes, looking as though she'd been expecting me.

"Did I wake you?"

"No," she said. "Welcome."

It was a ritual greeting between us. I had no way of knowing whether Maria was actually asleep on those nights, or whether she was sitting patiently in her kitchen, waiting for customers.

"What are you serving tonight?" I asked. This was also ritual, for we both knew that the menu never changed, no matter the time or season.

"Nacatamal," she said. "Esta usted sola?"

"S’, se–ora, I am alone." My answer, like the menu, had remained unaltered for years. And yet she asked it, each time, with a kind of naked hope, as if she believed that one day my luck might change.

The cafe was empty and dark, somehow cool despite the heat outside. She pointed to a small table where a candle burned in a jar. I thanked her and sat down. I could hear her preparing coffee in the kitchen, which was separated from the dining area by a narrow doorway in which hung a curtain of red fabric. I watched the patterns made by the candlelight on the far wall. The images seemed too lovely and symmetrical to be random—a bird, a sailboat, a star, followed by a series of rectangular bars of light. It was a feeling I often had in that town, and one of the reasons I kept returning when my work as a coffee buyer brought me to Nicaragua—a feeling that even the simplest natural acts were somehow ordered, as if some unnamed discipline reigned over both the animate and inanimate. I rarely felt this way at home in San Francisco. It was no wonder the locals referred to Diriomo as pueblo brujo—bewitched village.

Maria had just set my plate on the table when the bell clanged outside. Together we looked toward the door, as if something miraculous might materialize. In all the times I had taken a midnight meal among the porcelain dolls and carnivorous plants in Maria's cafe, I'd rarely met another customer.

Maria went to the door and opened it a crack. For a moment my table was flooded with moonlight.

"Buenas noches, Maria," a man's voice said.

"Buenas noches."

The door closed, plunging the room once again into near darkness.

The man passed by my table. His face was turned away, but in the pale light from the kitchen I observed that he carried himself in the way very tall men often do, shoulders slumped in a sort of apology for taking up so much space. He wore a baseball cap pulled low on the forehead. A hardback book was tucked under one arm. He went to a table in the corner, the one farthest from my own. When he sat down, his back to me, the wooden chair creaked so violently I thought it might break.

Maria took a match out of her apron pocket, struck it against the wall, and dipped the flame into a crims

Excerpted from No One You Know by Michelle Richmond
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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