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Voodoo Heart: Storiesby Scott Snyder
Synopses & Reviews
Scott Snyder's protagonists inhabit a playfully deranged fictional world in which a Wall Street trader can find himself armed with a speargun, guarding a Dumpster outside a pawnshop in Florida; or an employee at Niagara Falls (his job: watching for jumpers) will take off in a car after a blimp in which his girlfriend has escaped. But in Snyder's wondrous imagination there's a thin membrane between the whimsical and the disturbing: the unlikely affair between a famous actress — in hiding after surgery — and a sporting goods salesman takes an ominous turn just as she begins to heal; an engaged couple's relationship is fractured when one of them becomes obsessed with an inmate at the women's prison next door.
Dark, funny, powerful, this debut collection underscores the remarkable gifts of a fiercely original young writer.
"[Signature] Reviewed by Francine Prose Reading Scott Snyder's accomplished first story collection, Voodoo Heart, is a little like watching a magician pull rabbits out of a hat. No matter how many times you've seen the trick performed, you still marvel that someone has figured out not only how to do it but, more important, how to persuade the audience that no one has ever done it exactly that way before. Snyder's particular sleight of hand enables him to make the unlikely seem disturbingly familiar; he bends and stretches the laws of ordinary causality just enough so that, when his narratives snap back, there's a twang that reverberates after the final line. His protagonists are young romantics worried about the conflict between authenticity and adventurousness, torn between a self-protective longing for solitude and a longing for some deeper loyalty to another human being. What they mistake for life-changing passion may turn out to be simple — and terrible — misunderstanding, and a chance encounter may initiate a chain of events that will alter them forever. Many reside just outside odd or intentional communities (a boot camp for troubled teens, a summer haven for overweight kids) in which they take an almost anthropological interest. Others are in transit or in flight, reluctant to confront that what looked like a whimsical job opportunity or a brief vacation from ordinary life may in fact be a permanent dead end.In the title story, a young couple renovates an abandoned Florida mansion that borders on a women's prison — a proximity that intensifies the hero's most secret and desperate concerns about his true nature. In another tale, an equally conflicted young man meets a celebrity convalescing from drastic plastic surgery and becomes involved in a meteoric affair that flames out as her recovery changes his sense of what it means to be injured. In 'Dumpster Tuesday,' a guy who seems to have everything (or just enough) loses it all when his girlfriend leaves him for a brain-damaged, improbably charismatic country singer, and in 'About Face,' a trumpet player working at a juvenile detention center learns a painful lesson about illness, compassion and the mysteries of sex.Suffused with sly humor, sympathy and high spirits, the stories in Voodoo Heart are giddy with the thrill of discovering what can be done with words, what you can make happen on the page. The result is as irreducible and rewarding as making playing cards disappear or pulling gold coins out of thin air. Francine Prose's most recent book is Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles. Her new book, Reading like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them will be published in the fall." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Scott Snyder's Voodoo Heart just blew me away. These dispatches from disaffected but strangely likeable American oddities have much the same effect as good American roots music: their simplicity is deceptive, their emotional power considerable. And at some point between the mystery-blimp of 'Blue Yodel' and the World War I-era Curtis Jenny of 'The Star Attraction of 1919,' you may discover that Snyder's plain folks have stolen your heart. I think what impressed me most about these stories — even the ones in which terrible things happen — was their warmth and humanity. Even when his characters are at their worst, Scott Snyder never abandons them. These are stories that welcome the reader in, and fully reward his interest. Sometimes horrifying, often absurd, full of characters afraid to commit (and who sometimes commit anyway), this is a debut worthy of T. Coraghessan Boyle's If The River Was Whiskey. I couldn't put it down." Stephen King
"Snyder is masterful, and the fact that he draws on uniquely American symbols, stories, and songs makes Voodoo Heart outstanding and unusual, and a spectacular debut." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Each story in Scott Snyder's Voodoo Heart is as mournful and beautiful and haunting as a Hank Williams song, or a Buster Keaton movie, or a dream you have on the edge of sleep: vivid, insistent, funny, strange, heartbreaking all at the same time, full of odd, doomed love, and unforgettable." Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant's House
"Seven solidly constructed stories celebrate characters who are lost and don't necessarily wish to be found....A pleasure to read, particularly for Snyder's careful attention to his craft." Kirkus Reviews
"[The] stories in Voodoo Heart are well-made and inventive, and their boldness is admirable, especially at a time when most short fiction seems so timid....Snyder's true talent is revealed when he lets his imagination soar." New York Times
"Snyder's work is swift and engaging and well worth your time. Fresh and lively, this first collection may not stand the short story on its head, but it makes the reader look forward to whatever comes next." Hartford Courant
Readers of "Zoetrope, One Story, Tin House" and "Epoch" will recognize this fiercely original young writer, whose compelling stories are now assembled for the first time.
About the Author
Scott Snyder has been published in Zoetrope, One Story, Tin House, Epoch, and other journals. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York.
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