Snapshots: 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction

By Janet Berliner; Joyce Carol Oates | Go to book overview

Kiswana Browne

GLORIA NAYLOR

FROM THE WINDOW of her sixth-floor studio apartment, Kiswana could see over the wall at the end of the street to the busy avenue that lay just north of Brewster Place. The late afternoon shoppers looked like brightly clad marionettes as they moved between the congested traffic, clutching their packages against their bodies to guard them from sudden bursts of the cold autumn wind. A portly mailman had abandoned his cart and was bumping into indignant window shoppers as he puffed behind the cap that the wind had snatched from his head. Kiswana leaned over to see if he was going to be successful, but the edge of the building cut him off from her view.

A pigeon swept across her window, and she marveled at its liquid movements in the air waves. She placed her dreams on the back of the bird and fantasized that it would glide forever in transparent silver circles until it ascended to the center of the universe and was swallowed up. But the wind died down, and she watched with a sigh as the bird beat its wings in awkward, frantic movements to land on the corroded top of a fire escape on the opposite building. This brought her back to earth.

Humph, it's probably sitting over there crapping on those folks' fire escape, she thought. Now, that's a safety hazard. . . . And her mind was busy again, creating flames and smoke and frustrated tenants whose escape was being hindered because they were slipping and sliding in pigeon shit. She watched their cussing, haphazard descent on the fire escapes until they had all reached the bottom. They were milling around, oblivious to their burning apartments, angrily planning to march on the mayor's office about the pigeons. She materialized placards and banners for them, and they had just reached the corner, boldly sidestepping fire hoses and broken glass, when they all vanished.

-134-

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Snapshots: 20th Century Mother-Daughter Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page III
  • Contents V
  • Foreword VII
  • Introduction IX
  • Wicked Girl 3
  • Consuelo's Letter 14
  • Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother 24
  • The Allies 39
  • Cleaning Up 49
  • La Lloradora 65
  • An Ordinary Woman 90
  • Girl 95
  • Solitude 97
  • How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes) 125
  • Kiswana Browne 134
  • A Rose in the Heart of New York 146
  • Mousetrap 174
  • Up Above Diamond City 185
  • Eveyday Use 195
  • Death Mother 204
  • Everything Old is New Again 228
  • Contributors' Notes 235
  • Copyright Acknowledgments 241
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