Off the Shelf: Bohemian Girl by Terese Svoboda

Svoboda Read the beginning of Chapter 1 from Bohemian Girl by Terese Svoboda:

"Pa lost me on a bet he could not break, nor would, having other daughters to do for, and other debt besides. The bet with the Indian—really a race, Pa liked any kind of bet—was who could walk first to the mouth of this river that flows so flat into the distance that the eye starts to water following it. Too thick to drink, too thin to plow, he says every time we cross it. My Pa traps and knows the land but maybe not so much the river, or maybe he stopped to take refreshment the way he does and got himself confused because that bet was not won although he and the Indian spent most of one winter chasing the river down, with the Indian squat at the mouth by the time Pa showed.

A man of honor, my Pa.

If I look into the perfect face of the river, with no rock to make a muscle in its flow or tree stump to divide it, I see Pa in it, about to haul out a trap. He trapped on land too, but rivers were his favorite. I see his face in the water and not even my true self, nor Duschecka in my arms, that’s how much I want to see him. He wears a sourdough coat, a sealskin cap, and Dutch socks up to the knee, winter, spring, and fall. In summer you can know him by his short leather breeches."

Terese Svoboda is the author of five volumes of poetry and four novels, including Tin God (Nebraska 2006); a collection of short stories, Trailer Girl and Other Stories (available in a Bison Books edition); and a nonfiction book, Black Glasses like Clark Kent: A GI’s Secret from Postwar Japan, winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize.

To read a longer excerpt or to purchase Bohemian Girl, visit,674858.aspx.

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