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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 James Poissant delivers a moving portrayal of a relationship in turmoil. His strikingly true-to-life characters have reached a precipice, chased there by troubles of their own making. Some stand frightened, some ready to fight. Some seek atonement, others the atonement that is owed them. But, brought to the brink, each must make a choice: Leap, or look away? Lee Martin writes that Poissant forces us " to face the people we are when we' re alone in the dark," and, from the two men racing to save the life of a sick alligator in " Lizard Man" to the girl helping her boyfriend face his greatest fears in " The End of Aaron," from a son grieving his father in " 100% Cotton" as he 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' s invented worlds shine with honesty and dark complexity, but also with a profound compassion. These are stories hell-bent on hope. Fresh, smart, lively-- and often wickedly funny-- The Heaven of Animals is breathtakingly 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."