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MJ_Paulson has commented on (1) product.

Volt by Alan Heathcock
Volt

MJ_Paulson, April 18, 2011

Alan Heathcock's debut is a collection of eight short stories set in and around a small fictional town called Krafton. From the first story, The Staying Freight, to the last, Volt, Heathcock is a master at developing multi-layered characters within a handful of pages. One of the stories, Furlough, is barely eleven pages, and yet the character of Jorgen is marvelously complex and conflicted. The result is a haunting story that builds with each step the characters take into the dark night, into the dark fields, and it is one that will stay with me for a long time. Other characters in the longer works are equally complex, such as Sheriff Helen Farraley who appears in Peacekeeper, The Daughter, and Volt. And Krafton, central to all of these stories, a town that could be any small town in the United States, is not merely a backdrop. The town is as much a character as the people who live within it.

The stories also raise big questions, questions about faith, about morality. Each story acknowledges that darkness is an inevitable part of life--sometimes hidden just beneath the surface, sometimes out there for the world to see, but the darkness is there, as much a part of humanity as is hope or salvation. Heathcock's style is one of quiet intensity, each word carefully chosen, each sentence precise. It takes skill, a bit of poetry, and a solid, strong voice to deliver a powerful short story. Heathcock delivers eight of them. I can't wait to see what he does next.
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