GERMS OF TRUTH
A book about life, death, families of all ages, stages, and orientation—and sperm banks . . .
In this engaging and thoughtful collection of short stories, we find people of all ages trying to make sense—poignant, often funny, sometimes wise—of the many, changing ways they intersect as parents, children, and families from conception to death.
In the first section, We're All Donors Here, a woman muses, "I mean, when you go to a sperm bank, you have to realize that sperm is like money. It gets handled by a lot of people but is essentially impersonal. It's what you use it for that gives it meaning." An exasperated mother straight talks her disconsolate, perfectionist daughter who has transposed a number on her sperm order, "All this picking and choosing, all this getting it 'right' is a delusion. Always has been." What lies beyond right is what these donors and recipients of sperm banks explore: A young woman applies her creative writing skills to donor profiles, a high school senior indifferent to meeting her sperm donor seeks out her second mother instead, and a doting first time father tries to get his mind around the reality that sixty-seven other children have as much in common with him genetically as this infant he knows as unique and priceless.
In the second section, Whose Life Is It Anyway, an artist asks her second husband and their assembled adult children, "Do you ever feel you are living out someone else's story?" With the help of those they live with and love more or less well, and of their ghosts, living and dead, hungry and nurturing, the tellers of these ten stories seek to get their lives back, and, surprisingly, do—mysteriously renewed. A psychologist understands the impact of a childhood spent caring for a dying father; a reluctant father-to-be grieves the death of his younger sister twenty years before. A man turning forty muses on the recent deaths of a father who never knew him and a beloved analyst who did as he delivers gourmet food to the homeless; an immigrant father, on his own since he was twelve, discovers his own life is the best advice he can give his son. A woman in her eighties, a budding writer, asserts her independence from a well-meaning daughter eager to revive the farm she has yearned for years to escape. 294 pp. ISBN 978-0-9827262-8-0
In these 20 stories, Heather Tosteson presents a contemporary chorus of characters trying to navigate this thing called life and doing so as best they can. The diverse Germs of Truth cast—from sperm donors to pedicab drivers/artists to grandmothers who find their soul mates via Facebook—spring from families traditional and evolving, harbor deep suspicions about the validity of emotional ties and yet still yearn “to kiss love on both cheeks.” To a lucky few, Tosteson grants true connection and, yes, even love.
Kat Meads, author of For You, Madam Lenin; When the Dust Finally Settles and Born Southern and Restless
Heather Tosteson is a brave and empathetic storyteller, creating honest and credible protagonists who are all, in their own driven and very human way, seekers of truth. Germs of Truth burns brightly with originality and compassion, and Tosteson’s skillful way of bringing the inner lives of her characters to light gives her readers a bravery and empathy we only thought we possessed.
Michele Markarian, playwright, The Dedoption, The Real Family, and Parents of Typical Children