David Pablo Cohn's EIGHT IN THREE WEEKS presents a masterful writer's debut collection of short stories. By turns understated, harrowing, humorous, and mysterious, these stories reveal Cohn's capacity for inhabiting and revealing the consciousness of an unusually wide range of characters. Women, men, and children from different cultures, subcultures, professions, and age groups are all vivid and moving as they undertake their quests, undergo their struggles, and reach their epiphanies.
In "The Duchess," a working-class man named Billy copes with midlife angst by attempting to build a sailboat--a project that drags on as unsatisfactorily as the rest of his life. "Abraham and Sarah," by contrast, not only revisits the Biblical story about the couple of that name but also segues to a modern-day Abraham and Sarah whose experiences both echo the Hebrew Bible's account and diverge from the ancient outcome. Perhaps most unusual is "On Ziahtown Road," in which an old, sick Liberian man sets off on foot to find his missing daughter but takes a stranger, longer voyage than he anticipated. Other stories - "Bragging Rights," "Water on Travertine," "Fly Away," and "Eight in Three Weeks" - demonstrate Cohn's impressive ability to delve into children's minds and to explore boys' and girls' bafflement as they attempt to figure out the adult world's mysteries. Three other narratives - "Artifacts," "Last Night Ashore," and "Tales from the Ice" - vividly reflect Cohn's first-hand knowledge of Antarctic bases while deployed as a computer scientist to the South Pole Station and elsewhere on the earth's coldest continent.
Throughout EIGHT IN THREE WEEKS, David Pablo Cohn manifests nuanced command of the short story genre as well as imaginative insights into the human condition.