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Author shares stories reflective of fatherhood

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Feb. 19, 2015 at 6:36 p.m.
Updated Feb. 19, 2015 at 11:12 p.m.

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Stephen Graham Jones reads "Lunch" from his book, "States of Grace."

When Stephen Graham Jones began developing his craft, the author said he practiced by writing notes of forgiveness to women he had slighted the night before.

"I'd put them under windshield wipers of girls' cars," Jones said. "I'd write things like, 'Two swans, one pond.'"

Jones, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, spoke at Alcorn Auditorium Thursday afternoon as part of the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review reading series.

Jones, an American Indian and Texas native, kicked off the reading with a story about his love of Whataburger.

"It's always cool to be back in Texas. When I get off the plane in Texas, the first place to go is always Whataburger," Jones said. "We don't have Whataburger in Colorado, which is a terrible condition to be in."

The author read "Lunch" from his 2014 collection of flash fiction, "States of Grace."

The story was about a woman his character regularly traded jokes with at lunch and about how her son was being sent to live with his grandmother because she had a working heater at home.

The writer said he was inspired to write the piece by a group of cyclists performing tricks alongside his car.

"But then I didn't even write about that because I couldn't figure out a way to get him into the story," Jones said. "So many of the stories I publish can be called, I guess, works of nonfiction, but I don't write nonfiction so I call them fiction."

The audience laughed lightly.

Another story he read, "The Talk," was about an awkward encounter between the main character, Dan, and his daughter.

The father and daughter were sitting in a hot tub when a couple next door began making use of their son's bunk bed. The window was broken and covered with duct tape, so the father and daughter could both hear their neighbors' making love.

"All the father could do is stare at the bottom of the water and not let his feet touch his daughter's," Jones read. "When he looked up ... she collapsed into laughter."

The father looked away as his daughter got out of the hot tub and said he better not hear her talk about the incident over the phone.

"You won't," the daughter said smartly.

"After that Dan knew better than to ever ask her any question he didn't already know the answer to," the author read.

Debbie Dickerson-Lott, a Victoria native, said she enjoyed Jones' reading.

"I didn't know what to expect," Dickerson-Lott said. "It was extremely intriguing."


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