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"He bit her finger almost clean off. Not the whole thing, just the top part, right below the nail. Tooth marks in the bone, that’s what the nurses said. It was her ring finger. Left hand. That part was probably a coincidence though. He bit it while he was dying. Jessie’s not mad about it. Hard to be mad at someone for what they did while they were dying. I’m mad though. Not about the biting, just the dying.

My brother Miles had the biggest heart in the whole world. Bigger than a giraffe’s, and they’re famous for how big their hearts are because they need to pump the blood all the way up those long necks. I’ve learned there are mysteries most everywhere. There’s at least a hundred mysteries left squirming in the mud whenever the tide pulls out, and that’s just at Isamiles Rocks. One of the greatest mysteries of them all though, and one the scientists and religious people would never even think to study, is how the biggest heart in the whole world could also be a broken heart. No, not broken like that. Jessie never would have let that happen. Broken like an engine. Like your favorite cup."

Excerpt from Hourglass, winner of the John Gardner Memorial Prize in Fiction