Whether urban or rural, rich or poor, young or old, the characters in Prayers of an Accidental Nature are driven by perpetual yearning: for love, sex, healing, even for death. This virtuoso collection of cutting-edge short stories with a subversive undercurrent is marked by dazzling versatility.
Di Blasi tells the stories of a teacher who converses with God, a pair of mythic (and meta-) lovers, and a scotch-soaked schizophrenic. In the title story, the plural narrator of a doomed upper class masterminds the demise of a favored son’s romance with a woman from “Peru or Bolivia (we can’t remember which).” In “An Interview with My Husband,” an artificial exercise forces a couple to face up to the dissolution of their marriage. In “An Obscure Geography” a beloved teacher meets her match in the form of the evil son of wealthy newcomers, and yet manages to triumph, even in death. At the end of the story, her students toss flowers into her grave as they recite the names of capital cities. Di Blasi’s fierce artistry tugs her readers into the psyches and beds of her characters, and leaves us there to wonder if a greater truth, or a greater lie, is being laid bare. Intellectual and funny, erotic and contemplative, the stories in Prayers of an Accidental Nature scrutinize the tensions and divisions that arise in human relations—divisions of culture, class, age, and sex. Di Blasi’s narratives probe the intricacies of human love, lust, and loneliness, and the darkest areas where these overlap.
“Di Blasi’s themes of sexual obsession, physical beauty, and lost love ignite this notable effort to define the perils of intimacy.” —Publishers Weekly
“Debra Di Blasi writes about sex and love with thrilling originality and insight. Prayers of an Accidental Nature is a remarkable collection.” —Robert Olen Butler
“In clear, resonant prose, laced with bittersweet humor, Di Blasi imparts her understanding of love’s multiple ironies.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Debra Di Blasi’s title story sets up readers for a tour of social, racial, and gender divisions in our fallen world.” —Hilda Raz
“Debra Di Blasi knows the yearnings of the human heart, the pulse that beats beneath our most private and precious deceits, and she will stop at nothing to remind us of our primal leanings toward love.” —Lee Martin