cover image The Famous Thing about Death: And Other Stories

The Famous Thing about Death: And Other Stories

Lisa Sandlin. Cinco Puntos Press, $9.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-938317-13-5

Thick with a variety of voices and personalities, this promising debut short-fiction collection marks Sandlin as a writer to watch. ``Jimmy's Eye'' is an unsentimental account of the white man's decimation of the Taskachulo Indians of Texas; five years after the government uproots them to arid New Mexico, Uncle Sam picks off the flower of the tribe--six young men with astonishing eyesight--for a punishing stint in the Great War. In the title story, an aging ballet dancer is betrayed by her once perfectly toned body as well as by neighbors who commit her to a nursing home after they hear her arguing with a long-dead husband. The mind of his father, Jude, was destroyed by poison gas in the Great War and his mother has deserted the family, but Ardie Polk of ``Dear General'' ministers to Jude with great sensitivity, even though Ardie ``has a heartache. It's an intense, sunken kind of feeling, as if his heart is submerged in a lake, drifting barely above silt-bottom.'' As Sandlin envisions it, life is a precarious but precious burden. She conjures a single mother who chafes at her impotence in protecting her young son; an ``angel'' of a young man, every mother's dream for her daughter, who attacks his date; and a brother and sister who, alienated from the family because of their parents' constant bickering, are brought together after the brother's debilitating accident. (July)