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Voodoo Heartby Scott Snyder
Synopses & Reviews
My girlfriend and I are not rich people. Not by a longshot. But together we own a mansion-one of the last real mansions in central Florida. It was built by a family of lemon farmers back in 1869, almost one hundred and fifty years ago. We put less than eleven hundred dollars down, hardly anything, but the house has over twenty rooms in all: five bedrooms, a library with a vaulted ceiling, a study, even a garden room that looks out on three full acres of wild backyard.
The morning the realtor first showed us the place, I was sure she'd made some kind of mistake. The other houses she'd taken us to see had been small: one- and two-bedroom apartments mostly. And then, out of nowhere, this.
For a long time, Laura and I stood on the front lawn, just staring up at the house. It had a wraparound porch. There were four stone chimneys rising from the roof. Laura had a good job at the aquarium, and I managed a major wrecking yard, but even so, how could something like this be in our price range?
I know what you're thinking said the realtor. She had to speak loudly to be heard over the persistent buzzing from insects hidden in the foliage. But the price is just what I said. I'm tempted to buy this one myself.
I studied the house, trying to take in the whole giant sprawl. Granted, it would need work. The place looked like it had stood vacant a long time, abandoned for ten, maybe even fifteen years. Ferns had sprouted though the slats of the porch. The columns were covered in a scaly silver mold. There were mushrooms growing in one of the rain gutters, a whole row, white with red spots, like tiny bloodstained umbrellas.
The grounds were in bad shape too: everything wild and overgrown, choked by weeds and bramble. Long tatters of moss hung from the trees.
Still, there was no disguising what lay beneath all the disrepair. With time and effort, this could be a wonderland for us.
Laura must have sensed my excitement. This house is incredible. But it'll be way too much work. I mean, look. She waved a hand over the tall, weedy grass, which came all the way up to our thighs. The yard alone will take weeks to clear.
“We wouldn't tackle the whole thing all at once,” I said. “We could just do a little every day.
Laura turned to examine the house again. I spotted a tick crawling up the back of her shirt and quickly plucked it off before she could notice.
I don't know, Jake, she said. If it’s so great, why has it been standing here, empty, year after year? What’s wrong with it?
So,” I said to the realtor. “What's wrong with it?”
The realtor shrugged, mopping the sweat from her face. Her name was Joyce. She was an older lady, a grandmotherly type; she wore her white hair in a bun; her sneakers were brand-new. The house had been hard to find. It lay off the main road, hidden behind the old lemon fields. Walking over from where we'd parked had been a big exertion for Joyce.
Nothing’s wrong with this place, love, she said. “People are just afraid of privacy, I suppose.
I waited for her to go on. You're sure? There’s no catch?”
“Fess up, Joyce,” said Laura.
Joyce sighed and wiped her glasses on her shorts. Look. The only thing I can think
A whimsical but frequently disturbing collection of short fiction is set in a bizarre world populated by a Wall Street trader armed with a spear gun assigned to guard a Florida pawn shop, a Niagara Falls employee whose job is to watch for jumpers and who takes off after a blimp in which his girlfriend has escaped, and other offbeat characters. A first collection. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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