North Country, Roxane Gay #32

North Country
Roxane Gay
From Best American Short Stories, 2012
Originally printed in Hobart
#32 in the I will read and take brief notes on 300 short stories project

A faculty engineer named Kate embarks on a sad cruise of Lake Superior with a less than desirable set of colleagues. She is African-American, and must endure questions like, "Are you from Detroit?" She tells us, "Shortly after that, I will begin telling people I have recently arrived from Africa. They will nod and exhale excitedly and ask about my tribe. I don't know that in this moment, so there is little to comfort me." She meets Magnus as she comes to the deck for air.

Loneliness is pervasive in North Country. Kate despairs the life of the town. She tells her mother more than once that she might not survive. She has a one-night encounter with Magnus; he seems very interested in her but she pushes him away.

Kate remembers being with a liar, her dissertation advisor, the father of their stillborn baby.

She finds her way to Magnus and he is persistent and ignores her reluctance. He teaches her to milk a cow. There is separation, hurt feelings, an igloo. It's beautiful.

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