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by Kevin Moffett

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-87745-992-4
Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Joint winner of the 2006 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, this collection piercingly depicts idiosyncratic perspectives.

Moffett’s delicately perceptive stories, several set in Florida’s beach communities and retirement homes, share with the reader the characters’ most private inner dialogues. In “Tattooizm,” Andrea, currently dating aspiring tattoo artist Dixon, is already mentally rehearsing how to describe Dixon to the boyfriend she imagines being with next. In “The Gardener of Eden,” Evan mourns with aching intensity the death of one of his employees, a woman with whom he has experienced a brief affair. A strain of offbeat humor permeates the writing, as in “Ursa, on Zoo Property and Off,” which follows an office outing during which both animal and human modes of interaction are laid bare. Whether the mood is serious or comic, Moffett’s beady observation supplements the work with telling detail: a set of tooth braces (“A Statement of Purpose”); a slice of red-velvet cake, imperiously ordered and never eaten (“The Volunteer’s Friend”). Moffett’s stories span the arc of life—marriage, sex, pregnancy, family, disease, death—and in doing so, they imagine individuals in all their lonely specialness, with insights to match, such as Ray’s (“Space”), as he contemplates his mother’s death: “While her absence made the hole, her absence was also what came later to fill it.”

Low-key yet sharp stories, etched with a humane vision.