Poet Todd Hearon's striking and hallucinatory debut novella DO GEESE SEE GOD is officially published. We could not be happier than to kick off NZP with such a well-realized work.
DO GEESE SEE GOD is a cycle of interconnected stories/perspectives that explores the question of what can happen when the net of safety and security is pulled out from under two children, who are then committed into the care of the State. It centers upon the characters of now-adult twins; their biological parents—a successful architect and a college professor—killed in a car crash when the children were still quite young; and the two who subsequently took charge of them in the New York State foster care system. Set in Ithaca, New York, the stories range in time from the 1940s to the present where they find each other again after a fourteen-year separation. During that time, the boy has been incarcerated in a horrific juvenile detention facility. The girl claims to have undergone sexual abuse in the foster home and is living a fringe existence in New York City where her brother eventually finds her, and the two resolve to return to Ithaca, seeking vengeance and—in their minds—atonement, out of love for the children they once were, by the fractured adults they have become.
The book is a journey into the lives of its characters: not only the twins but the four parental figures who surround them: the foster father, a former professional wrestler on the New York/New Jersey circuit during the sport’s “Golden Age” of television, who now makes his living as a voyeuristic pool repairman; the foster mother, a religious zealot desperately struggling to protect the children in her charge—thirty-seven to date—from the horrible fate that she suspects is occurring in her own home; and the biological parents: a young mother and assistant professor of philosophy, pining away for a life of the mind, who in the course of the story comes to better understand her heart; a husband searching the frozen moments of the past, recollected in a Central Park concert video, for a time when his depressive wife might have been truly happy. No one in the collection makes it out unscathed—and at least three of the six characters don’t make it out alive—but the sacrifices that are made issue from a belief, however misguided, in the redemptive power of love.
About Todd Hearon
Prize-winning poet and dramatist. His first work, Strange Land, appeared in 2010 with Southern Illinois University Press and was selected by US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as winner of the Crab Orchard Poetry Series Open Competition. Strange Land was favorably reviewed in Poetry magazine and other journals for its “poems of uncompromising beauty” (David Ferry); former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky called it “a first book of rare mastery.” It received a PEN/New England “Discovery” Award and the Friends of Literature Prize from Poetry magazine and the Poetry Foundation. His second collection, No Other Gods (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015) received the Rumi Prize in Poetry (Arts & Letters), the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize (Sarah Lawrence College), and was a finalist for three national prizes: the May Swenson Poetry Award, the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and the Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor’s Choice Award (Persea Books). His poems, plays and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals including AGNI, Arts & Letters, Birmingham Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, The Common, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Literary Imagination, Memorious, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Ireland, Poetry London, New Ohio Review, Salamander, Slate, Southern Review and Southwest Review. He was awarded the Paul Green Playwrights Prize (North Carolina Writers’ Network), a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship (University of Texas, Austin) and most recently served as the writer-in-residence at the Robert Frost Place and Dartmouth College. DO GEESE SEE GOD will mark his fiction debut.