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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona graduate breaks dead baby rule

    Arizona graduate breaks dead baby rule

    Some writers feel that stories about dead babies have been a bit overdone in the last few years and consider the subject almost taboo to write about. Yet, former UA student David James Poissant seems to have made himself the exception to that rule with his story “”Venn Diagram,”” which appears in the “”Best New American Voices 2008″” collection.

    “”Venn Diagram”” begins at a dead-baby survivor group, where the protagonist and his wife go to seek support for the loss of their child. The narrator is rather cynical about these meetings, though, and sees the other participants as competing with him for most deserving of sympathy.

    This narrator is a mathematician and as such, he is able to add a cold, calculating and often funny lens to the grief that has given dead-baby stories such a bad reputation. Where other narrators might cry, this one likens the situation to a mathematics problem in which trains leave two stations at different times.

    “”Best New American
    Voices 2008″”
    Harvest Books
    List price $15
    5 stars!!

    In the end, we see the most romantic equation: the narrator comes to see his relationship with his wife as a Venn diagram, in which the two of them are only just managing to overlap.

    There are other strong stories in the collection, such as Christopher Stokes’s “”The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller.”” This story is narrated by one of the natives of an island near Indonesia and gives a possible account of Michael Rockefeller’s mysterious demise: he was eaten by this narrator.

    Stokes successfully pulls off speaking from the point of view of a native person, and the tale includes many funny misunderstandings, such as the idea that the Rockefellers are a tribe, and the mischievous translation of certain phrases that young Rockefeller unwittingly repeats.

    Another important voice in the collection is Elizabeth Kadetsky, author of “”Men More Than Mortal,”” who writes about a female bike messenger who accidentally locks her unbreakable chain around her waist. We follow her on her quest to free herself, which involves calling the unhelpful customer service line, confronting her ex-boyfriend (he owns a blowtorch) and, finally, relying on the underground circles of bike thieves to set her free.

    These stories are diverse and powerful. In the course of the book, you’ll be taken from San Francisco to the Pacific, shown dying relationships and reviving marriages and much more. “”Best New American Voices 2008″” can safely use the word “”best”” with talents like these.

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