Prayers of an Accidental Nature
Stories by Debra Di Blasi
April 1, 1999 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 224 pages • 978-1-56689-083-0
Stylistically innovative fiction that tests the borders of gender and class issues, skirting the edge of post-modern erotica.
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.
About the Author
Debra Di Blasi is the author of Prayers of an Accidental Nature. She was born Debra Pickens in Kirksville, Missouri, and was raised on a cattle farm in Unionville, Missouri. She is the recipient of many awards, including a James C. McCormick Fellowship in Fiction from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the Thorpe Menn Book Award, Diagram’s Innovative Writing Award, and the Eyster Prize in Fiction. Her novel What the Body Requires was one of four finalists in the Heekin Foundation’s James Fellowship for the Novel-in-Progress. Her story, “Sparrows,” was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart Prize, and a mixed media fiction, “Machine Ghosts,” was a finalist in the 2005 Panliterary Awards. In 2006, she received Pushcart nominations for “A Bird Does Not Understand the Concept of Glass” and “Personal Effects,” also selected by Web del Sol as “Best of Web Fiction.”
Debra is publisher at Jaded Ibis Press and president of Jaded Ibis Productions, a transmedia corporation which produces BLEED, a video channel of interviews with innovative writers and artist, and The Jirí Chronicles, a mélange of nearly 500 individual works of prose, poetry, fictive audio interviews and music, videos, print, web and visual art. She is a former arts writer at The Pitch, SOMA, and The New Art Examiner, and taught experimental writing forms at Kansas City Art Institute. Debra frequently lectures on innovative literature.
“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.” —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