When Dante falls asleep, strange creatures burst from him, intent on murder; waking, he pursues them across the world. Dante’s Heart is a story about violence and the marks it leaves on us. The story has elements of magical realism. Here is an excerpt:
It was unlike any bone country Dante and his companions had ever seen. For one thing, the graves were not in the earth but above it, a field of metal boxes perched on their ends, like standing stones, or like silent prisons, holding captive a thousand decaying monuments to the violence that is on the earth. Some might have held actual bodies, others only a symbolic remainder: an autobiography, a famous coat, a bloodstained axe, a boot. In each metal surface had been sculpted a screaming face. Beneath each face, a single name:
Some Dante recognized, some he didn’t. He and the others—the dwarf with the eyes like hard gems, the nymph whose hair today was the deep red of algae—stopped in silence at the border of this field of the dead. Then Dante walked silently on, alone at first, his feet carrying him quietly down the long rows. He stared, aghast, at the faces, and mouthed the names he read as he passed.
(Note for the fans: The title Dante’s Heart is taken from an online literary journal that I ran, under a different name, from 2007-2009, and which issues one ebook each year. This story evolved out of the idea that was my original inspiration for Dante’s Heart.)