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ISBN 10: 1893956059 / ISBN 13: 9781893956056
Verlag: Context Books, 2000
Zustand: Fine Hardcover
Verkäufer Studio Books (Corvallis, OR, USA)

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New York: Context Books. 2000. First edition. 165 pages. Short Stories. Signed by the author on title page. Cloth, fine copy in fine dust jacket, which is in a mylar protector. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 6027

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Bibliografische Details


Verlag: Context Books

Erscheinungsdatum: 2000

Einband: Hardcover


Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Fine

Signiert: Signed by Author(s)

Auflage: 1st Edition

Über diesen Titel


In just a few years David Means has emerged as one of the most distinct voices of his generation, producing superbly generous stories that-like the work of his predecessors Raymond Carver and Alice Munro-push the form to a new level. Bringing together Means's unforgettable characters and plots in diamond-cutter prose, Assorted Fire Events is a major literary event.

From a married man consummating a hazy summer affair and getting lost in a reverie that explains the "far-away look in his eyes" ("Coitus") to a recently widowed mother who must decide what to do with a video of her honeymoon love-making ("The Widow Predicament"), David Means probes the depths of the human heart. The stories collected here range the American landscape: suburban sprawl leads to disastrous consequences in Pushcart Prize-winning "What They Did;" a Depression-era hobo holds on to a freight train that roars through the desert night as well as his scattered past ("The Grip"); sneaking into a wedding reception, a homeless man forever changes the lives of all present ("The Interruption"); and in "The Railroad Incident," a business executive sheds his shoes for an evening walk straight into the heart of darkness. Everywhere crystalline moments emerge that seem strange yet gritty and remarkably real. Means never fails to find the locus of grace and redemption in the most complex, and sometimes horrifying situations.

In these stories we find a major talent honing his skills, a gambler willing to push the limits while, at the same time, taking great care in playing his cards. Long anticipated, Assorted Fire Events will surely stand alongside the great story collections of our time. In an age of hype and hyperbole, this is distinctly the real thing: a book that has already garnered the respect and admiration of his peers. David Means is, without a doubt, one of America's best short story writers. As Jonathan Franzen states: "this is food for the hungry."


A bleak inevitability pervades David Means's splendid collection of stories. If the weather's not cold in Assorted Fire Events--which it usually is--then there's an icy fist squeezing someone's heart. In the melancholy "Coitus," for instance, the protagonist, while making illicit afternoon love with a woman who is not his wife, relives the circumstances of his brother's death by drowning in a frigid Michigan river. In "Tahorah," a ravaged old trucker with a balloon pump nestled next to his heart lies helpless in the CCU as his fury mounts at the noisy, foreign-language laments going on out in the hallway. But one of the pleasures of these tough stories comes in unexpected flashes of tenderness or redemption. Sitting shiva for his daughter, a man sees his estranged brother laughing--and rather than erupting into predictable indignation, he is reminded of a treasured shared childhood.

Means explores the fateful intersection where disparate lives touch and thereafter are never the same. In admirably efficient and elegant prose, he weaves a story of an angry, failing pipe supplier celebrating the second marriage of his wife's best friend to a business rival. Sucking down scotches, he thinks the groom needs "breaking in, like a new baseball glove. Someone should pour neat's-foot oil onto it and mash a fist around, grind it right in--get the rich freshness, that silver-spoon suck, out of those cheeks." Into this bitter musing stumbles a homeless man in search of a handout, and then the story ricochets forward in time to the aftermath of the encounter, a ruptured spleen, and inevitable divorce. In the space of a few pages entire lives are revealed.

Railroads figure in several tales--a mournful distant whistle, a bygone hobo culture, and the modern equivalent where the rail-beds and switching yards on the fringes of towns attract the homeless and the hapless. In the title piece, annotated incidents of arson and immolation, some real, some fiction, are strung together into a compelling album of calamity. Fierce and complex, illuminated by compassion, these are stories from the bitter edges of experience. --Victoria Jenkins

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