Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Inside Madeleine
  • Written by Paula Bomer
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781616953096
  • Our Price: $16.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Inside Madeleine

Buy now from Random House

  • Inside Madeleine
  • Written by Paula Bomer
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9781616953102
  • Our Price: $15.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Inside Madeleine

Inside Madeleine

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Written by Paula BomerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Paula Bomer

eBook

List Price: $15.00

eBook

On Sale: May 13, 2014
Pages: | ISBN: 978-1-61695-310-2
Published by : Soho Press Soho Press
Inside Madeleine Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Inside Madeleine
  • Email this page - Inside Madeleine
  • Print this page - Inside Madeleine
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
PRAISE PRAISE
Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents

Synopsis

"With surgical insight, Inside Madeline delves into the most complex female territory imaginable and dissects until every honest bone is revealed. Bomer's prose doesn't flinch, doesn't filter—the bravery of these stories left me breathless.”
—Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa

From the author of Nine Months and Baby comes a daring new collection that seethes with alienation, lust and rage. Bomer takes us from hospitals, halfway houses, and alleyways, to boarding schools and Park Avenue penthouses, exploring the complex relationships girls have with their bodies, with other girls, and with boys. The title novella tracks the ins and outs of an outsider’s life: her childhood obesity and kinky sex life, her toxic relationships, whether familial or erotic, and her various disappearing acts, of body and mind.

Excerpt

Inside Madeleine  
 
1
 
            Her name was Madeleine. She ate french toast for breakfast every school-day morning. Or waffles or pancakes. Her mother's back to her, broad and strong, mixing the dough and frying the eggy bread until it was hot and golden brown. She stacked up a pile of five or six pieces and greased them slick with butter, careful to put butter on each piece, lifting the hot bread with her fingers, steam burning up from the stack. She poured on huge dollops of syrup, preferably a colorful blueberry or strawberry syrup, occasionally using brown maple syrup. If, for some strange reason, her mom didn't cook, then she ate three bowls of Captain Crunch or Booberrry or Count Chocula, letting the milk turn thick with the sugar and starch, drinking the milk down when there were no bites left. She spread raspberry jam on slices of toast already dripping with butter. Large chunks of jam, the seeds of the berries sticking between her teeth. She ate in a breathless stupor, staring at the cereal box or syrup bottle, reading the ingredients over and over to herself, her back hunched over the food protectively. Breakfast was her favorite. She often had trouble sleeping at night because hot, buttery pancakes raced through her head and the excitement she felt at the prospect of eating kept her up late into the night.
            At lunchtime she came home to eat. Most kids ate cafeteria meals of microwaved meat and vegetables, a small carton of milk and a piece of cake in the perfect sized squares of the styrofoam trays. Other children ate sandwiches packed in brown bags with a chips and a twinkie. But Maddy raced the two blocks home and her mother's back would face her again, as she stirred pots of chicken soup with dumplings and fried potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce. She ate sausages cooked in the pan and split down the middle slathered with a mustard that brought tears to her eyes. She ate stews with meat and potatoes and carrots. Everything she ate she washed down with large glasses of milk, pushing down chunks of barely chewed food, food she swallowed so quickly her throat was often scratched. Then she ran back to school, her stomach as tight as a basketball, her belly pushing against the snap of her jeans. She ran the two blocks back so as not to miss the next class, the food hard and painful in her stomach.
            After school she had a snack. Her mother's face would be in the paper, her feet up on a chair as she sat in the living room. She would throw her books on the kitchen table and open the refrigerator and then open the cupboards. There was peanut butter on crackers and boxes of moist raisins. There were bags of pretzels and cheese wrapped in individual plastic slices. She ate fruit flavored yogurts and candy bars and homemade cookies left in a tin. She ate slices of luncheon meats rolled up in a tube shape, her fingers holding on to the greasy meat, sliding it down the root of my tongue, swallowing it whole. She ate until she couldn't eat anymore and her stomach felt as tight as it did after lunch, stretched and hurting and she'd lay down in the living room or on her bed, the blood flowing away from her mind, flowing straight to her stomach, leaving her sleepy and digesting.
            She grew. She grew three and a half inches between the age of ten and eleven. Her shoe size went up two sizes. Her clothes bound her body uncomfortably. Her mother began standing behind her on the scale, watching the needle shake up and up as she continued to gain weight. Her mother took her shopping and bought her loose sweaters and shirts with matching elastic waist pants and new white underwear from the women's section of Goldblatt's department store. She wasn't allowed to wear prints, because they would draw attention to her girth. The matching outfits were in solid colors only, no whites or bright yellows, rather colors her mother thought were slimming, such as dark purple and dark blue. She bought a new winter coat and new fluffy, red mittens. She weighed well over two hundred pounds by the end of the sixth grade.
            Her schoolmates called her fatty, fat girl, fatso, jiggle butt, jelly butt, big ass, big titties, piggy, cow, lard ass. They called her Maddy the fatty, Moo moo Maddy.
            For dinner her mother cooked whole stuffed chickens and baked potatoes and steamed broccoli with hollandaise sauce. She ate beef Wellington and pork chops and baked fruit pies for dessert. There was cheese fondue and meatloaf and homemade pizzas with onions and sausage. They rarely went out to eat. Her mother's back, sturdy and industrious, preferred to stand guard at the counter in the kitchen. After dinner she snacked while she watched TV. She ate donuts and bags of red licorice. She ate oatmeal cookie sandwiches that were filled with icing. Her stomach ached, stuffed hard, packed down with a shovel.
            Her father stopped looking at her. He looked at the air next to her instead when he addressed her. Her mother cooked. Her sister Amanda was a teenager and didn't notice anything. She ate and ate and ate. Her breasts grew but so did the rest of her body so they almost didn't seem like breasts, just an extension of the layers of fat and flesh that surrounded her. She grew hips that hid in the lumps of fat that accumulated above and below them. She grew pubic hair, strangely dark and prickly, under her arms and between her legs. Folds of peach colored flesh hid the brown patches of fur. But they were there, dark and alarming, underneath all the layers.
            Her hands grew big and round, dimpling in the palms. They perspired a thin wetness while pulling meat off of a chicken leg and grabbing handfuls of peanuts. Sweat came out of the pores in her chin and the many hidden folds of her flesh. Her armpits and inner thighs began smelling musty like a dirty drain in a bathtub. They stunk like brown hay, like a sink full of dirty pots. Her crotch smelled of lukewarm shrimp, salty and damp. The skin where her breasts met was covered with a film of mildewy sweat; her cleavage grew red and splotchy from the heat and damp and the rubbing against itself.
            She bathed at night, filling the tub only halfway, sinking her huge body down and watching the water rise to the edges of the bath. She scrubbed herself with a washcloth, a bar of Ivory soap, rubbing herself until she turned pink and raw. She scrubbed her armpits and her breasts and feet and neck. She washed behind her ears and behind her knees. She rubbed the bar of soap between the lips of her crotch, sliding it down to the groove of her asshole. She rubbed it back and forth until her arms ached from reaching around her body and her crotch burned. And as soon as she stood up, the milky water now cool dripping off her, she began to sweat again. As she vigorously rubbed a bath towel against her back and around her neck, her skin became damp again, her own fluids free to cover her body once more. By the time she lay down to sleep, she could smell herself strongly, smell a musty animal smell emanating from the secret parts of her ever expanding body.
            Her schoolmates called her Stinky and Funky and Sweaty and PU and you smell like shit. They plugged their noses with their hands when she sat down in the desks next to them. They called her Maddy the Fatty you smell like hell. They called her FatShitStink. She used prescription creme deodorant that came in a jar and a medicated body powder. Her mother washed her clothes separately from the rest of the family's with a scented detergent made for tough grease stains.
            Her mother took her to a doctor. A specialist. A tall gray haired man with a red, veiny face and bad breath. They drove two hours south of South Bend to see him. She undressed and put on a pale, flowered robe. He weighed her. He made her raise her arms. He made her try and touch her toes. He looked inside her mouth with a tongue depressor. He asked her why she ate so much. He felt her breasts and underneath her arms and asked her to breathe while he listened to her heart. She lay back on an examining table and he prodded and asked and prodded some more. He gave her mother a strict diet for Maddy to follow and a prescription medicine to reduce appetite. He asked her if she would like them to put a ball in her stomach. He said this sternly, his eyes hooded by dark drooping lids. He said, with a clammy hand on her bare shoulder, that it would be a serious operation. For six months the ball would remain inside of her, he said, sewn up into her gut so that she would fill up easily and not eat much at all. They drove home and looking at the road ahead of her, her mother cried. The operation would be expensive.
            Every morning and every night she stepped on the scale and her mother stood behind her and watched the needle dance. Every morning and every night she took two red prescription capsules that left her head jittery and hollow. She ate dry toast for breakfast and drank a diet chocolate shake that came in a can. She came home for lunch and was given a bowl of fruit. She drank glasses and glasses of water with squeezed lemon. Endless ice cubes rattled against her teeth. She ate specially prepared chicken for dinner, grilled with herbs and served with white rice. She had a pink book with the words My Little Food Book on it where her mother and she wrote down everything she ate and how many calories it contained. Her mother bought her exercise clothes and new sneakers. Sweat suits and rubber sweat clothes. She jumped rope in the kitchen while her mother cooked, counting the turns of the rope out loud, twenty three, twenty four, twenty five. She ran around their neighborhood block five times with her mother every night. The neighbors looked out of their windows at first. Small, featureless faces peering sideways out windows. Parents and children walking from their cars to their front doors, stopping momentarily, necks turning to watch the woman pull her daughter down the block. Sweat poured out of Maddy faster than before, more watery than ever, staining her bright athletic clothes with dark, damp patches.
            At night she dreamt of the breakfast of her past, she dreamt the hot sweet odor of pancakes and bowls of sticky cereal. She dreamt dishes of delicious food were in front of her and her hands were larger than ever; so thick were her fingers that they could not hold onto a spoon or a fork.  As she tried to grasp them, the utensils would fall out of her useless swollen hands, clanging to the floor. She dreamt of thick stews and double hamburgers. Sometimes in her dreams she could eat and she would. In these dreams she ate and ate and ate and when she woke, her stomach burned with acidic juices cruelly aroused for no real purpose.
            She menstruated deep, brown blood that flowed for ten days straight. Soon after that her mother drove her to see the special doctor again. He weighed her, wrapped up in the same flowered robe. He made her touch her toes and reach for the ceiling and he poked his clammy finger under her arms and in the small of her back. He looked at the inside of her mouth. He asked her how she felt, his brow wrinkled, his malodorous breath in her face. She told him fine.
            But she felt like a deflated balloon, a neglected doll, a stuffed animal attacked by a dog. She felt small and see through, less protected, less herself. She had been MaddyFatty, StinkyCow, Pigface. She had been Jiggly Jelly Butt. She had been round and soft, her eyes hidden behind folds, the shape of her chin and nose lost behind flesh.
            But now all of her came out in sharp relief. She looked at herself in the mirror in the doctor's office, wrapped up in the flowered robe. Her breasts had become their own shapes, separate from the rest of her body, large tuberous things, protruding outward from her newly slenderer waist. Her hips flared out like fans, swinging side to side as she walked. Her eyes came out, big and visible to the world, wet and round and white. Her nose became thin and angled and her chin pointed outward, a lonely exposed bone. She had lost sixty pounds and lost her names, her flesh pillows, her body as she knew it. Her mother beamed as she stared at the road in front of her on the drive home, her eyes shining glossy and her mouth curled with joy. No ball would be surgically implanted in her daughter's stomach. No more expensive doctor visits. Maddy would just stick to her routine. Everything would be just fine.          
            
2
 
            When Madeleine turned twelve she was five nine and a hundred and seventy pounds. That September she started the seventh grade and she felt nervous, fat, and ashamed. She worried about the clothes she wore to the extent that she didn’t sleep well at night and her breath came short and fast in the mornings, or sometimes all day, depending on what she was wearing. Lunch time was the hardest because she no longer could run home, the junior high was too far away, so she had to eat at the cafeteria. After a few humiliating days of eating alone, she sat at a table with a handful of girls that looked around at each other with irritated and vulnerable eyes. It was a table that soon disappeared altogether, the girls sitting together only so as not to be alone, and as quickly as possible, they migrated to real, defined groups -the preps, the jocks or the nerds. Madeleine knew some of the preppie kids from her elementary school but her view of them changed drastically in the first few weeks of seventh grade (she had once thought them important) and eventually they fell from her vision altogether, becoming vague, uninteresting phantoms that roamed the school in Izod shirts and cableknit sweaters. Instead, she found herself mysteriously drawn to the freaks, and without realizing it, she began following them around, especially a small, wiry girl named Jennifer.
            The freaks, of which Jennifer was a kind of queen, were generally from the south side of South Bend, and the boys had long, stringy hair and wore heavy metal T-shirts; their shoulders were slumped and they didn’t look people in the eye. The girls dressed in tight, revealing clothing bought at discount stores, wore too much makeup and had bleached, feathered hair with dark roots showing. Both the girls and the boys had the reputation of being violent and mean and were rumored to carry knives with them. And although they were not thought of as stupid, they were known to get bad grades, because they didn’t care, because they smoked pot, because they were troubled.  Maybe it was from fear, which can foster a curiosity or a kind of respect, maybe it was some knowledge they seemed to have, but Madeleine was drawn to their lunch tables and their ways, her voice became twanged and filled with “ain’ts”  and her look became less respectable. Mostly, she wanted to be Jennifer.
            Jennifer was perfect. She was thin and petite, her eyes were hard and she always was impeccably dressed. Her sweaters outlined her smallish, well defined breasts perfectly and her pants were tight and new looking, without a pantyline to mar the boyish curve of her bottom. Her piercing laugh was distinctly cruel and always directed at someone. But otherwise she spoke deep and low; and other kids would have to lean toward her to hear her, which they did nervously.  She often slapped people on the arm or shoulder, biting her thin bottom lip as she did, and it hurt, stung for minutes, but it was just play, and no one could get angry about it.
            Madeleine simply became Jennifer’s shadow. She did this discreetly, unknowingly on anyone’s part at first, especially her own. When Jennifer laughed, she laughed. When Jennifer kicked gravel, Madeleine did. She smoked Marlboro Lights because Jennifer did. Jennifer lined her dark eyes heavily with a Maybelline eyeliner and her cheeks sparkled with blush that came out of a pink plastic case. Madeleine began darkening her eyelids with the same brand of eyeliner and stroked her robust cheeks with the same sparkly powder. She wore the same boots as Jennifer; brown with thick red laces. And Madeleine began swearing frequently with a violent enthusiasm, her sentences littered with fucks and shits, as if it were a part of her she had kept hidden all her childhood and finally set free. When Jennifer craned her neck around to look at something, Madeleine's plump neck carefully followed in the same direction, a peripheral eye ever on her friend, in case she were to change the course of her gaze.
            She called Jennifer everyday after school. When they spoke, Jennifer spoke of all the boys she knew, who was going out with whom, which girls did what with which boys, and Madeleine listened hungrily, curled up in the back of her parent’s closet so nobody could hear her, the phone held tensely on her lap, surrounded by her mother’s shoes.
            Yeah, Marion is a slut. Last year she fucked half of the senior class at the high school. She thinks no one remembers because they've all graduated. But a slut’s a slut, said Jennifer.
            Yeah, and I can’t believe she fucked that guy in his car, said Maddy.
            What do mean you can’t believe it?
            I just can’t believe it. How gross. Where were they?
            I just said for the millionth time, they were in his car.
            I mean, where was the car. Were they parked?
            No, dumbshit, they were driving around while they fucked. What’s your problem? Of course they were parked. You can’t fuck someone when you’re driving around. You’re such a virgin.
            Fuck you, I am not.
            Yes you are. A fat virgin.
            Fuck you.
            Fuck you., Jennifer mimicked.
            I am not a virgin.
            OK then. Who have you fucked?
            I fucked Tim Spencer last year, lied Madeleine.
            The previous year, while playing five minutes in the closet, Tim, a nervous, skinny boy with protruding front teeth that obviously bothered him, had groped at her breasts and put a twitching hand between her legs on the outside of her jeans.   
            No way. Tim Spencer couldn’t fuck no one if he tried. No way in hell. That nerd doesn’t have a dick.
            Fuck you. You’re a bitch.
            I gotta go.
            OK, I’ll see you tomorrow.
            Bye.
            After they talked, Madeleine would sit in the closet for awhile, her heart beating fast, her lips moist, her mouth full of saliva. She’d stay there until her mother would come to the closet door, yelling, asking her what on earth she was doing, and Madeleine caring little about her mother’s frustration, stumbled out and into her own room and planned out what she would wear the next day. She fingered her clothes, spreading pants and sweaters out on the bed; she’d look at an outfit and change her mind, deciding on another sweater. Meanwhile, images of Marion fucking someone in a car raced through her head. And as she lay in bed, curled up in a big, cozy ball, with a warm hand between her thighs, she thought of Jennifer; of the way Jennifer held her body tight and erect, with her shoulders slumped slightly and self-consciously, of the way Jennifer walked down the halls, her bowed, short legs gliding quickly, her feet hitting the shiny, hard tiles and clicking solidly.
            Now at lunch time, Madeleine without question joined Jennifer at a table in the back of the cafeteria. It was known as the freak  table. The table differed from the other tables in that it never lined up in quite the same direction as the rest, rather it pointed in a strange angle, and the lunch trays were extra-ordinary in their sloppiness. Food was left uneaten and graying, feet were propped up on the table despite this being against the rules. Bags of pot and switchblades and dirt magazines were passed from one dirty fingernailed hand to another. Everyone who sat there owned a blue jean jacket, preferably an old beat up one, and all of the boys wore their blue jean jackets year round - even in the worst months of winter. After they finished poking at their lunch, the crowd gathered around by a side entrance of the school and smoked joints and cigarettes. Conversation and eye contact were spare - lots of gravel was kicked. Madeleine never spoke at all, but by the time she entered her next class, she felt powerful and dangerous. She was aware of her growing reputation.
               Madeleine’s parents began noticing the change in her, which her father tried to ignore and her mother occasionally yelled and cried over. Madeleine became unrecognizable to her family, her hair burnt and twisted from the curling iron, her face orange with cheap make-up, leaving a trail of Coty musk perfume behind her as she awkwardly roamed the malls, fast food restaurants and skating rinks of South Bend, two steps behind Jennifer wherever they were. They shopped together at the discount stores, buying the same outfits in different shades - Jennifer’s in purple, Madeleine’s in pink. They took polaroids of each other and had people photograph them together when they were at the mall, leaning against  each other in their matching outfits, their arms folded against their chests, one foot crossed arrogantly over the other.
            The two girls usually spent the weekends at Jennifer’s house, side by side in the bathroom, applying and reapplying eye shadows. On Friday nights, they skated at Howard’s Park ice rink. The two rink guards who worked there, Scott and Oz, were in their last years of high school  after having repeated a few years. They drove loud cars that had red stripes painted on the sides and they spoke with deep weathered voices. Jennifer talked with Scott and Madeleine talked with Oz by default, he being the less attractive one. Madeleine followed Oz around the rink just enough to annoy him rather than amuse him, laughing at inappropriate moments, staring at him quite slack jawed. She was somewhat aware of her effect on him and she continued to pursue him with the belief that next time, she’d say the right thing. And on occasions, Oz would look upon her with some sign of interest, or something that appeared to be interest, and Madeleine would get dizzy and skate away, covering her broad, uncontrollable smile with large, mittened hands. Every hour on the hour the Zamboni would smooth the ice and the two girls would convene in the bathroom, their tarted up faces red from the cold, and comb their hair with combs they kept in their back pockets.
            I think he likes me, said Madeleine.
            I think he likes me, mimicked Jennifer, her voice high and nasal.
            Stop it, you bitch. I think he does.
            Jennifer continued primping in the mirror, tucking her tight, fluffy  acrylic sweater  into her jeans and then she slapped Madeleine on the shoulder.
            I think he  does, Jennifer squawked.
             Madeleine ignored her taunting for a moment and assuredly stated: I’m going to lie to him and tell him I’m fifteen.
            I’m gonna lie to him and tell him I’m fifteen..
            Stop it!
            Stop it!
             Madeleine didn’t tell Oz she was fifteen that night, but she skated around slowly, her hands deep in the pockets of her turquoise ski jacket, planning the perfect way of telling him, how she would toss her hair, how he would smile at her. That night, like most Friday nights Madeleine and Jennifer slept together on Jennifer's narrow mattress, their skin damp and swollen with sleep, their bodies tired from skating. Madeleine had trouble sleeping. She lay quietly next to her friend, imitating the way her breath came and left, the way her stomach rose and fell, aware of herself and Jennifer’s body next to her. She woke up that Saturday morning and her arms and legs ached and she was quieter than usual as she and Jennifer ate their cereal together.
            The next weekend they went skating again and Madeleine wore a brand new pink velour V-neck sweater that made her self-conscious of her large breasts. It was tight and shiny and her cleavage was prominently displayed. Before they left Jennifer’s house, Madeleine stood in front of the full length mirror in the bathroom and practiced saying, I’m fifteen, and, I bet you didn’t know I was fifteen, and she put her hands on her hips and then on her thighs, tilting her hips this way or that, and she smiled at her reflection with her head turned downward, looking up at herself coyly. She sprayed an extra squirt of Coty musk perfume on her neck, telling herself that it was for good luck. It was a particularly cold November evening and she skated up to Oz soon after they got there.
            Hey Oz, she said, reaching out awkwardly to grab the sleeve of his leather jacket.
            What?
            I'm fifteen.
            No you're not.
            Oh yes I am. I swear it.
            Then how come I’ve never seen you at the high school. Huh?
            I don’t know, Madeleine said, looking down at her skates and touching her toes together, the blades scraping against each other.
            You’re not from this part of town, are you, He said, looking straight at her and it unsettled her but she was flattered. He had never spoken so many words to her before.
            I am  fifteen.
            He laughed, saying, Well, you're tall enough. He wet his lips and appeared as if he had decided on something.
            I am. I was born in 1965. That makes me fifteen.
            Well, if you say so sweetie. That still makes you a lot younger than me, almost five years younger. Now  what do you think of that?
            I think that's just fine.
            Madeleine smiled broadly, unable to refrain from doing so and she lifted her colorful, wool knit mittens to her face.         
            You think that's just fine!
            He laughed, throwing his head back, his mouth open wide, revealing more fillings than she’d ever seen.
            Well my little fifteen year old girl, it looks like it's time to get off the rink. It looks like it's time for the Zamboni to clean off the ice, he said and then paused a beat, and looking away from her, added: Why don't you come with me. He skated around in a small circle and she couldn’t catch his eye. 
            Come with you? Where to? Maddy asked. She put her toes together and then slid her heals together, toes then heals, without looking at her skates.                    To the rink guard’s station, where else? Where did you think I meant?
            Oz brushed his hair away with black, dirty leather gloves and revealed a small forehead and tired, gray eyes and for a moment she was alarmed.
            I don’t know.  How was I supposed to know.
            Her cheeks felt puffy, like baby’s cheeks, and her face was hot with blood that had rushed to it.
            Let's go, He said, smiling, skating over to the rink guard's station, with it's PRIVATE sign on the door.
            Fifteen year old girls aren't as shy as you, he snickered. Then he laughed and his laugh was quiet and light and she looked at his teeth. They were tobacco stained and they seemed much too small for his head. Her ankles wobbled as she followed him.
            I'm coming.
            He held on to the sleeve of her ski jacket, coaxing her firmly yet softly  into the room, and it occurred to Madeleine that no one had ever been that gentle with her before. A fluorescent light hung from the ceiling, giving everything a hard, green appearance. There was a bench and a desk with a chair, a girlie calendar on the wall and overflowing ashtrays everywhere. Oz lit a joint, sat on the bench and pulled her next to him. He grinned, the light making his face veiny and green. She smoked, aware of his hockey skates and she noticed that his feet were actually larger than hers.
            You have big feet, she said.
            You’ve got big eyes, he said, laughing quietly, nicely and added, They’re pretty. I like them.
            He grinned and his grin seemed permanent, endless, and she tried not to stare at his teeth.
            Come here, he said, I want to touch you. That’s a girl.
            She scooted closer to him, their bodies were touching and his arm was heavy around her shoulder. His arm felt protective and affectionate, and she liked it, but the inside of her mouth was swollen and dry, making her uncomfortable. He leaned into her face, kissing her ear and she sensed a tension in his body.
            Relax, he whispered hoarsely, but his body was far from relaxed, it was tight and rigid and he kissed her ear again and Madeleine’s heart slammed against her breasts as she looked down shamefully on the whiteness of her swelling cleavage. Oz ran his hands over her neck and his fingers were slightly damp and cold. Oh baby, he murmured, biting his lip, just relax, that’s it, I won’t hurt you.
            She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, her muscles twitched under her skin; she felt each one jerk, her shoulder, her stomach, her thigh. Oz reached toward the zipper of her jeans and she opened her eyes and put her hand out halfheartedly to stop him and he gently put her hand away. He undid her jeans and quickly slipped a clammy hand into her underwear, saying, that's it. You like this don't you?
            Madeleine tilted her hips upward, letting her thighs spread to accommodate his hand. A warmth ran through her body and suddenly the light hurt her eyes so she shut them again.
            You're wet, baby. God you’re wet, he said, grinning, and she opened her eyes and looked straight into his mouth, straight at his teeth. Then his hand was in front of her face, glistening and mossy smelling. Look at how wet you are, he said and touched her lips with his damp hand. He put his fingers back inside of her and she felt them hard this time, scraping against her soft, swollen flesh.
            Ouch, that hurts, she said and  Oz grinned, removing his fingers.
            I want to fuck you. OK?
            He stood, pulling down his tight pants. He put out his hand and she reached up and held on to it, careful to look at his face, at his tired eyes, and he pulled her up off the bench. Then he pulled down her jeans and underwear and she twisted and squirmed to help him along. He pulled them down around her ankles, like his were, and he sat down, pulling her on his lap, with her back facing him, his long fingers gripping her already broad hipbones, sliding himself into her.
            That feels good doesn't it, he said, you are a big girl aren't you, a big, big girl.
            He moved her then with his strong, gripping hands, back and forth, then up and down, then back and forth again.
            You’re as big as a woman, big there where I'm in you, big as a woman who's had three kids, he said laughing and though she couldn’t see him, she knew his head was thrown back and she saw his fillings and his awful brown teeth. Madeleine smelled herself in the room, the whole room smelled of her, and she wondered why it didn’t hurt like it was supposed to, like it had when his fingers were inside of her, like Jennifer said it had, and she thought about how she’d tell Jennifer all about it at night, laying next to her on the thin mattress.
            After a few moments, Oz gripped her hard and groaned a little. Then, with one hand on her head, he moved her off of his lap. They pulled up their pants in silence and she looked at him; he seemed anxious. Shit, he muttered, I gotta get out there.
             As they walked out onto the ice rink, he calmly skated away, toward the other rink guard. Madeleine saw Jennifer come out of the bathroom and she glided quickly over to her friend, her mittens up to her face, covering a nervous, painful grin. Her breath came out moist and floated like damp smoke in the cold air and she put her arms around Jennifer’s neck, saying, Oh God Jennifer- Fucking shit. You’re not going to believe this, and Jennifer ducked her head and twisted herself away from Madeleine’s grip.
            Get off me, man, Jennifer said, and her arms flew out sharply from her compact frame. Madeleine winced.
            Where the fuck were you, Jennifer snapped,  her mouth tight.
            I was in the rink guard’s station.
            Madeleine’s words echoed in her head. She breathed out wetly again, her breath visible against the black air. The darkness of the sky had come down in front of her like a wall of water.
            You were where?
            I was in the rink guard’s station. With Oz.
            Jesus fucking Christ. You whore.
            Jennifer spat on the ice. She turned around and skated back toward the bathroom. Madeleine watched her skate away - watched her enter the bathroom. Then she faced her large head to the sky, the sky that had darkened to a crisp black, the sky that surrounded her. Her groin ached, throbbing like a heartbeat, and holding her crotch with her mittened hands, she counted the throbbing beats, one, two, three.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
 
"Eye Socket Girls"
first appeared in Girls: An Anthology (Global City Press)

"Breasts"
first appeared in The Mississippi Review Online
 
"Reading to the Blind Girl"
first appeared in Storyglossia

"Down the Alley"
first appeared in The New York Tyrant

"Cleveland Circle House"
 
"Pussies"
first appeared in Night Train
 
"The Favorite Daughter"
first appeared in Necessary Fiction
 
"Two Years" 
first appeared in Nerve
 
"Inside Madeleine"
an excerpt first appeared in Nerve
Praise

Praise

Praise for Inside Madeleine

One of Flavorwire's most anticipated books of 2014

"Bomer offers her characters no outs—only the creeping sense that they're doomed to swing forever between futile attempts at self-determination."
—The New York Times Book Review

"Haunting, defiant."
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Bomer’s book will be talked about because she writes with such honesty about sex, but it is in matters of the soul she is most honest. These are women laid bare. Bomer dares us to look."
The Rumpus

"It might be best to imagine Bomer’s characters as moths endlessly flying toward the flickering blue neon light of a bug-zapper. Desire inevitably leads to futility."
—Tweed's Magazine

"Alluring in its rawness."
—Huffington Post

"Paula Bomer is one of those rare writers who can fit us snugly into the skin of a character within the confines of a short story. Whether it feels sickly or claustrophobic in that skin, it’s never too much to make you not want to keep turning the pages."
—Brooklyn Based

"Paula Bomer’s new short story collection should come with a warning label: not for the timid or easily shocked . . . If you’re looking for an unconventional summer read that is both brutally funny and powerfully emotional, don’t miss this book."
The Brooklyn Daily

"Dynamite and obscene... Inside Madeleine is an honest and urgent collections."
—Review of Contemporary Fiction

"The stories are often brutal, disappointment being the mildest outcome, with Bomer capturing her characters’ anger and helplessness in a graphic and gritty style. For readers who enjoy their short fiction explicit and tough."
—Library Journal

"[The title story] “Inside Madeleine” is the heartbreaking—and erotic—description of the destruction caused when the only man who sees her realistically leaves a vulnerable woman."
—Booklist

"[The atmosphere of Inside Madeleine] lends Bomer’s female protagonists an interesting reversal—they’re just as full of lust and bewilderment and bad choices as the boys they orbit, but their self-awareness lends an ache that escapes many writers."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Raw and urgent . . . Bomer does not hesitate to talk about sex, violence, the perversions we hide inside, or the forgiveness and acceptance we desire. Never for the faint of heart or weak-minded."
—BuzzFeed Books

"Bomer’s skill at getting inside the heads of unpredictable characters never fails to impress, and this new collection looks to offer more windows into complex lives."
—Electric Literature/The Outlet

"With surgical insight, Inside Madeleine delves into the most complex female territory imaginable and dissects until every honest bone is revealed. Bomer's prose doesn't flinch, doesn't filter—the bravery of these stories left me breathless."
—Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa

“The stories in Paula Bomer’s Inside Madeleine are many things—funny, horny, sad, smart—but what makes them exemplary is Bomer’s utmost fearlessness in confronting both the betrayals of the human body, and the irreparable loneliness of living inside of one. Whether we’re at a South Bend skating rink or CBGB’s, a halfway house or an anorexia ward, the humanity of Bomer’s characters is on hi-def display, allowing readers an intimate glimpse at what goes on in another person’s skin, and providing no holds barred illumination on such subjects as the uncontrollability of desire and the futility of discipline in the face of nature’s unfairness. This book is not for the faint of heart. Rather, it’s for the Reader who wants something courageously real: sweaty, bloody, beautiful.”
—Adam Wilson, author of Flatscreen

"The stories in Paula Bomer’s Inside Madeleine take your hand, tell you a secret, and then burp in your face, giggling. They are honest, playful, and cagey, and the very title of the collection suggests these tonal complexities."
—HTMLGIANT

"These stories, these girls, will stick with me for a long time... even if I want to forget them."
LitReactor

Praise for Bomer's collection Baby & Other Stories:

"Reading Baby & Other Stories is like being attacked by a rabid dog—and feeling grateful for it. This is some of the rawest and most urgent writing I can remember encountering."—Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections

"Dysfunctional doesn't begin to describe the marriages in this brilliant, brutally raw debut collection."
O Magazine

"In 10 raw and angry stories, Bomer flays the idea of happy little families.... This lacerating take on marriage and motherhood is not one to share with the Mommy and Me group."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"If Bomer's harsh portrayal of modern parenting and marriage were water, it would be transparent, unflecked, jagged ice.... She lands firmly between Mary Gaitskill's articulate, unflinching anhedonia and Kathy Acker.... Amy Hempel with a twist of Grace Paley. Baby is punk rock for the roundly domesticated."
Bookforum

Praise for Nine Months:

"Deliciously, dangerously rogue."—Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie

"Paula Bomer’s Nine Months is a daring look at motherhood, exploring the thoughts most women keep secret.... A page-turner that will tie your stomach in knots and stir up one hell of a debate."
—Susan Henderson, author of Up From the Blue

“This is a brave and provocative book about the insidious power of PC. That’s Parental Correctness, not Political Correctness... [Bomer’s] wounding analysis of herself and the vicious new mummy tribes she introduces us to make this book an instant classic.”
—The Guardian

"A raw, darkly funny, at times appalling page-turner.... Mommy lit lovers will be horrified, but Bomer's debut novel will resonate with fans of quirky, character-driven fiction in the vein of Richard Russo, John Updike, and Tiffany Baker."—Library Journal

"After reading this powerful, entertaining novel, and Bomer's excellent collection of stories, I'm convinced. Anything she writes, I want it."—PANK

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: