If you haven't yet read Tom Bissell's short story collection "God Lives in St. Petersburg," you may want to add it to your list of must-get-tos.
Set in Central Asia, these stories illuminate an area most of us will never see. The title story is probably the strongest with a heart-stopping ending, but the rest of the stories come in as a consistent close second.
With prose like this:
"He seemed suddenly to wish that he were not standing beside his father, who of course asked what had just been said. Aktar quietly back-translated for him, obviously hoping that his pea of an answer would be smothered beneath the mattress of translation."
there are moments of laughing out loud mixed in with finger-gripping tension.
and when one of the characters contemplates his own death:
"Donk had never thought much about his death before. The prospect had always felt to him like a television show he knew was on Channel 11 at eight o'clock but had never watched and never planned to."
the truth of Bissell's prose transcends place.
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.