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Wednesday April 16, 2014
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Donald Lystra

 

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the kinds of magazines U-M's ambitious MFA students dream about appearing in. He published a lovely novel, Season of Water and Ice, with a small regional press, and it was picked as a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. He was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. And now he has published, Something That Feels like Truth, a collection of precise and deeply imagined short stories.

Lystra's stories often take expected strategies and turn them on their fictional heads. For instance in, "Parallel Universe," the classic American "road story" becomes a tale about an aging son who drives his ill mother from Michigan to Florida. The mother is on oxygen, and it's running out! In "The Five O'clock Train" a couple in late middle age may have stayed together longer than the limits of love allow. They return to Paris to recapture the joy of their honeymoon, but an encounter with the place where Van Gogh died instead brings their tensions to a head, and perhaps to a kind of resolution. The beautiful thing about Lystra's stories is that he never tells us if his characters find that resolution, yet the uncertainty feels right.

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