Soon: Tales from Hospice

A. G. Mojtabai, Author, Mojtabai, Author Zoland Books $22 (190p) ISBN 978-0-944072-91-2
Set in a Texan hospice, award-winning novelist Mojtabai's (Called Out) collection of 17 interlocking short stories explores the ways in which patients--the cruelly young, the frail and weary, the angry, the believers, the rationalists, the people who try to maintain control, the deniers--try to find a common language with their visitors without small talk. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons attempt to bridge the barricade that fatal illness erects. A precocious eight-year-old, clearly aware of her impending death, asks a volunteer about the life span of mayflies; a courageous woman uses her final reserves of energy to write cheerful farewell letters to her friends and family; a strong-willed man refuses painkillers so he can describe his final moments with an unclouded mind. Throughout, nothing escapes Mojtabai's keen eye for the irony of life going on so near to death: a hospice worker dismantles funeral wreaths to rearrange the undamaged flowers into bouquets for the patients who are still living; a comatose patient is bathed while a man and a woman discuss sex on a nearby television. A hospice volunteer herself, Mojtabai remarks in her introduction that she began the work to ""face down [her] fears"" of death; in doing so she helps us face down ours. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!