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The Heaven of Animalsby David James Poissant
Synopses & Reviews
Named one of Amazon’s Best Short Story Collections of 2014
One of Atlanta Journal Constitution’s 9 Best Books of 2014
Best Short Story Collection of the Year, Tweed's Magazine
Winner of GLCA New Writers Award for Fiction
In each of the stories in this remarkable debut, award-winning writer David James Poissant explores the tenuous bonds of family—fathers and sons, husbands and wives—as they are tested by the sometimes brutal power of love.
His strikingly true-to-life characters have reached a precipice, chased there by troubles of their own making. Standing at the brink, each must make a choice: Leap, or look away? Pulitzer Prize finalist Lee Martin writes that Poissant forces us “to face the people we are when we’re alone in the dark.”
From two friends racing to save the life of an alligator in “Lizard Man” to a girl helping her boyfriend face his greatest fears in “The End of Aaron,” from a man who stalks death on an Atlanta street corner to a brother’s surprise at the surreal, improbable beauty of a late night encounter with a wolf, Poissant creates worlds that shine with honesty and dark complexity, but also with a profound compassion. These are stories hell-bent on hope.
Fresh, smart, lively, and wickedly funny, The Heaven of Animals is startlingly original and compulsively readable. As bestselling author Kevin Wilson puts it, “Poissant is a writer who knows us with such clarity that we wonder how he found his way so easily into our hearts and souls.”
"Imprecise language and a didactic resolution mar this entertaining but ultimately underwhelming debut collection of stories. Standouts include 'Lizard Man,' in which the death of a friend's father serves as a catalyst for a homophobic man to restore relations with his gay son (a plotline picked up again by the connected title story), and the pitch-perfect 'Last of the Great Land Mammals,' in which a dual narrative chronicles a couple's experience at Kentucky's Big Bone Lick State Park, culminating with the surreal image of a woman riding a bison. While some of the longer stories, such as 'Amputee,' wear out their welcome, due, in part, to clichÃ©s like 'her touch was electric,' the shortest stories in the collection feel padded. 'The Baby Glows' and '100% Cotton,' clocking in at under four pages each, and featuring a glowing baby and a stickup shooter, respectively, devolve into tired metaphors. There are some great moments — good bits of dialogue and interesting premises — but for the most part, the stories don't live up to their potential. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In this masterful debut, an award-winning writer and first-rate storyteller explores the tenuous bonds of family--fathers and sons, husbands and wives--as they are tested by the sometimes brutal power of love.
In each of the stories in this remarkable collection, David
About the Author
David James Poissant’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Playboy, One Story, The Southern Review, Glimmer Train, and in the New Stories from the South and Best New American Voices anthologies. His writing has been awarded the Matt Clark Prize, the RopeWalk Fiction Chapbook Prize, the George Garrett Fiction Award, and the Alice White Reeves Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts & Letters, as well as awards from the Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, and Playboy. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida and lives in Orlando with his wife and daughters.
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