"These stories, from the Midland oilfields to post-Soviet Vilnius, are distinguished by loss, and by intractable yearning. It is Gina Ochsner's achievement to show with such sensitivity and range the various ways we continue to fail each other and ourselves. A moving and powerful debut."
"Gina Ochsner writes with the delight and knowing of a born conjurer. Her world is that liminal space, that disconnect, between nature and our lives—heaven's winking outside the office window, grass pushing up around the casket, umbrellas opening like the great beating of wings."
“She is . . . a breath-taking acrobat with image and metaphor, dexterous with point of view. . . . She also reaches back to what matters most: myth, legend, and the healing power of storytelling. . . . The thing about Ochsner's characters is that, though they most assuredly do stumble and fall, they also possess 'the necessary grace' to rise.”
—Jill Barnum, North Dakota Quarterly
"Ochsner is playful and fearless in her search to understand life through suicide, terminal illness, violence and war. Her mesmerizing prose is remarkably well-balanced. She writes with a quiet authority the grasps the poetic nature of the short-story form. Yet she possesses an innate lightheartedness that takes the edge off the Grim Reaper's scythe."
—Susan Wickstrom, The Oregonian
"With the sensitivity of poetry The Necessary Grace to Fall does what most of us avoid or cannot do: it explores death, which, looked at clearly and closely, is not, we learn, so much fearsome as it is profoundly peculiar. Death is the ultimate Other and the breakdown of illusion. These stories are a fresh apprehension of life. Gina Ochsner has given us a brave gift."
Gina Ochsner's interests in folklore and myth often suffuse these stories of visitations, crossings, partings, and second chances. Fears and longings, for example, are often projected onto animals such as the earthbound, ice-covered swans of the Siberian tundra in "Sixty-six Degrees North." Likewise, Ochsner's insights into history-burdened contemporary life in Eastern Europe and Russia also filter through. In "Then, Returning" a Lithuanian and a Russian sort body parts and marble fragments in a Vilnius cemetery hit by stray artillery shells. As they work, a group of American genealogy buffs approaches, filled with hope that a day among the gravestones will bring order to their family trees.
In such wildly inventive ways, Gina Ochsner gives us new means to think about how the dead remain among us and how we can find beauty and solace even in graceless times and places.
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