The Heaven of Animals
By David James Poissant
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781476729961, 259pp.)
Publication Date: March 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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
2014 LA Times Book Prize Finalist
Winner of the Florida Book Awards Silver Medal for Fiction
Nominated for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut 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 boy-friend 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, improb-able beauty of a late night encounter with a wolf, Poissant creates worlds that shine with honesty and dark complexity, but also with a profound compas-sion. These are stories hell-bent on hope.
Fresh, smart, lively, and wickedly funny, "The Heaven of Animals" is startlingly original and compul-sively 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."
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.
"A character in “Lizard Man” has tattoos that, if you look closely, secretly hold another image in the design. David James Poissant’s writing has that same effect, the initial and wonderful strangeness giving way, slowly but surely, to something deeper, something difficult, something beautiful. 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."
"David James Poissant is one of our finest young writers, with a taut and subtle prose style, a deep knowledge of craft, and a heart so vast it encompasses whole worlds. I read his fiction and became a lifelong fan; I promise that you will too."
"What I admire most is David James Poissant's refusal to condescend to his characters. They are flawed but fully human, never mere caricatures but men trying to overcome the bad cards life has dealt them."
"Poissant is a first-rate storyteller who has an appreciation for the absurd turns of events that press down into all we try to keep buried until we have no choice but to face the people we are when we’re alone in the dark. By turns, funny and heartbreaking, Lizard Man has teeth and enough bite to grab onto you and not let go."
"David James Poissant’s “Lizard Man” delivers all you could want from a story: searing tensions, the irresistible strangeness of the Floridian landscape, incandescent prose, and characters alight with wisdom and pain, with hope and violence and regret. Throw in an alligator in a kiddie pool and, dear reader, you’ve got one hell of a story. Poissant is an extraordinary talent, and Lizard Man is nothing short of unforgettable."
-Laura van den Berg
“'Lizard Man,' a richly atmospheric story set in the swampland of Florida, explores the legacy of one father’s mistakes, and the improbable beauty of his attempts to make things right."
"Jamie Poissant will end up being his generation's Richard Ford: his fiction is full of big ideas, of startling insights into how we live now; and his writing is so smart, so sensitive and self-deprecating and full of empathy. He is one of our very best young writers. I know, know that we will be talking about him for years and years to come."
"It's not often you read stories with this much range, precision, power, and emotional depth in a first collection. This is beautiful, exciting work. Jamie Poissant is one of the best-of-the-best new writers out there, and I have no doubt there's a lot more to come."