Homemaking and Working, Summary




Chapter I: Native Americans (Page 1-15) (Published in somewhat different form as "Sites".)

First Sentence: "In 1952 Karl Shahoskoy was a powerful looking man of 24 in fatigue uniform, barrel-chested, square shoulders back, hawkish eyes and nose."

Karl Shahoskoy sees that Native Americans build their own shanties skillfully of government cast off while refusing to live in housing the government provides. Flashbacks to childhood and high school.

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Chapter II: Not a Home, Not a Wife (Page 13-33)

First sentence: "College Applications required essays on his plans."

Flashbacks to his college years, idealistic, hard-working, a loner, and his early years in the Army. His crystallizing sense of mission without having a mission. How Karl became the regular, occasional lover of a cocktail waitress.

Chapter III: Clotheslines (Page 35-56)

First sentence: "The corridors of the Pentagon are paneled with wood."

The story of Laura née Lish and her brother, their imprisonment by the Japanese as children, their drifting life in the world of the post World War II Army. Laura meets Karl but breaks their first date to visit with her brother.

Chapter IV: Square Dancing (Page 57-67)

First sentence: "A couple of weeks later her brother visited again and she went to dinner at her parents' house."

Karl's physical presence and sense of purpose take hold of Laura. They become engaged.

Chapter V: The Tax Payers' Money (Page 69-73)

First sentence: "Karl wanted to delay their wedding plans several months until after he made a presentation of his proposal for a more economical housing system."

The Army laughs at his ideas.

Chapter VI: China (Page 75-92)

First Sentence: "One day when they were discussing the cost of china, her mother asked Laura about Karl's family, who they were and what connections they had, `what kind of people' they were."

The death of Laura's brother in the Korean War interrupts their wedding plans. Laura is deeply stricken and Karl is at first sympathetic and then impatient. They slowly return to each other and become lovers.

Chapter VII: Starting Again (Page 93-122)

First sentence: "Karl and Laura sold his car and went by bus to graduate school in Seattle."

Graduate school briefly and then job hunting, with its anxieties, exposure, and false starts.

Chapter VIII: Frustrations (Page 123 - 136)

First sentence: "Three months later Karl was hurrying down the halls of his new employer."

Karl fights for support for his own ideas in his new job, and occasionally visits prostitutes who play act business power roles.

Chapter IX: Hiring (Page 137 - 150)

First sentence: "By 1974 Karl had risen to manager of the Innovative Shelter Department of Dynamic Technology."

Karl's department seen through the eyes of a new applicant, Mark Glitten. He sees everyone dependent on Karl's ideas and personality.

Chapter X: Not Deposed (Page 151 - 174)

First sentence: "In this chapter you, the reader, may experience a greenhouse where ideas grow strong enough to take root in our lives."

Karl wins a power struggle to keep charge of his department.

Chapter XI: Shells (Page 175 - 204) (Published in a slightly different form as "Shells")

First sentence: "So Karl's mainstay in the organization was Mark Glitten."

Mark Glitten's wife Barbara goes through Karl's house room by room and learns that Laura finds her life empty.

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Chapter XII: Flight (Page 205 - 220)

First sentence: "Karl Shahoskoy came running late to the sign-in counter in Washington's Dulles Airport and was assigned the aisle seat of a pair of seats by the window although the plane was one-third empty."

Karl tries to tell his story to a lawyer on the plane. On the way home from the airport he tells it to his kids as a fable.


Chapter XIII: The Pagoda (Page 221- 246) (Published in a slightly different form as "The Pagoda")

First sentence: "As autumn continued toward winter, Mark spent more and more time at work."

Mark Glitten's marriage breaks up in anger and his involvement with his job; he meets a blind psychotherapist who takes an instant interest in him, but sends him away until he is off the rebound.

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Chapter XIV: The Main Chance (Page 247 - 268)

First sentence: "One Day Earl Blue called Karl and told him that the vice president of a large Los Angeles lending institution wanted to talk to DT about plans for an Urban Renewal project in Watts."

This project is well-financed, and seeks innovation and social value. Karl puts everything into a proposal. Mark's divorce process grows more and more acrimonious.

Chapter XV: A Scattered Community (Page 269 - 292)

First sentence: "Four weeks after it was submitted, Earl Blue called Karl to tell him his proposal had been rejected."

Karl pulls strings and buttonholes technocrats, politicians, financiers, and community activists to keep his proposal alive. One of the later is Robert Kaliantros, brother of the blind psychotherapist, Nell Kaliantros. It proves expedient for Karl to move to an architectural firm.

Chapter XVI: Going It Alone (Page 293 - 306)

First sentence: "After a couple of weeks Mark phoned Karl about office space."

Karl keeps the project alive through various increasingly political review processes.

Chapter XVII: Out of a Job (Page 307 - 312)

First sentence: "The following Monday technically Karl was out of a job."

The project goes on but Karl's position in it weakens.

Chapter XVIII: What Laura's Been Thinking (Page 313 - 324)

First sentence: "Karl bicycled up the long hill to his house."

Laura wants a divorce. She says Karl has never paid any attention to anyone.

Chapter XIX: Further Modifications (Pages 325 - 342)

First sentence: "In the project things were going reasonably well."

The building trades council pickets the foundation laying. Further modifications in the project make it useless to Karl's dream. He tries to force Mark to force DT to take him back.

Chapter XX: Getting Help (Pages 343 - 350)

First sentence: "Mark came to Nell's house about 7:30 in the evening."

Nell calls Mark because she senses he is in trouble. She advises him to refuse Karl and he does. They become lovers. Karl is through.

Chapter XXI: One Year Hence (Pages 351 - 356)

First sentence: "Mark now lived in the house that Nell and Robert owned jointly."

Nell explains that she can sometimes see the future.

Chapter XXII: Five Years Hence (Pages 357 - 362) (Scheduled for Publication in a slightly different form in Wood Coin, summer 2010)

First sentence: "`Marco! Polo! Marco! Polo!', the voices surrounding and avoiding him in the warm splashing darkness."

The household of Laura and Barbara and their children and lovers from the viewpoint of a young man interested in Laura.

Chapter XXIII: Ten Years Hence (Page 363 - 368)

First sentence: "Karl Shahoskoy is striding hesitantly beside a young man in a suit through a vast airplane hanger."

Karl has a new scheme.

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Chapter XXIV: Twenty Five Years Hence (Page 369 - 370)

First sentence: "`What did you used to do?"'

Karl, an old man, talks to an old woman. He cannot yet explain himself.

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Chapter XXV: The Egg (Page 371)

First sentence: "Ms. McCraken, white, well-formed, in starch and hat, light hair, round face, not old, still moving, 40-50 years, coming again."

Karl still hopes men will understand and cooperate.