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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors

Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »

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ISBN13: 9781555975777
ISBN10: 1555975771
Condition: Standard
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Debbi, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by Debbi)
Best collection of short stories (loosely tied together) I've read! Alan Heathcock has mad skills as a writer and he is a nice guy too. Personal appearance at our book club sealed the deal. The depth of emotion and the character development is unsurpassed. Light and full of giggles, not so much; make me think long and hard, absolutely. Volt is a book to talk about over and over again.
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PittsburghWriter, January 20, 2012 (view all comments by PittsburghWriter)
This is the most amazing short fiction collection that I've held in my hands since I picked up my fist Flannery O'Connor. I found myself rereading sentences to see how Heathcock got the language so exactly right, every single time. It's dark, it's brooding, it's occasionally horrifying in its unexpected acts of brutality, but underneath it all, the characters have a nobility and honesty that I haven't seen in fiction in years. If you're not reading this, you're truly missing one of the greats.
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Gregree, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Gregree)
Excellent collection of stories. Haunting and lyrical. Easily my favorite book of 2011.
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MJ_Paulson, April 18, 2011 (view all comments by MJ_Paulson)
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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Product Details

Heathcock, Alan
Graywolf Press
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Volt Used Trade Paper
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Product details 208 pages Graywolf Press - English 9781555975777 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Heathcock's impressive debut collection pursues modern American prairie characters through some serious Old Testament muck. If it's not flood or fire ravishing the village of Krafton, then it's fratricide, pedocide, or just plain ol' stranger killing. In the National Magazine Award — winning 'Peacekeeper,' middle-aged grocery store manager Helen Farraley becomes the town's first sheriff and cuts her teeth on a missing-child case. When snow tracks lead her to discover the girl's grim fate, Helen skirts the law so that 'the unrighteous cause of her death kept a gracious unknown.' In 'Smoke,' the sins of the father visit 15-year-old Vernon when his war vet father drags him out of bed to cremate the man he's killed. In the suspenseful 'The Daughter,' we watch the sins drip down the maternal line, as well. Misery is in plentiful supply throughout these dark, thickly atmospheric tales of spiritual desolation and savagery. Fans of William Gay and Daniel Woodrell will savor these stories where sin and suffering shroud the hope of redemption. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "Alan Heathcock is an epic storyteller — and Volt is an epic collection. You will come away from each of these majestic stories thrilled, alternately terrified and heartened, ultimately full of wonder at how the author manages to make twenty pages so timeless, so deep and sweeping — every story like a novel writ small."
"Review" by , "Misery is in plentiful supply in these dark, thickly atmospheric tales of spiritual desolation and savagery. Fans of William Gay and Daniel Woodrell will savor these stories where sin and suffering shroud the hope of redemption."
"Review" by , "Heathcock is a writer to watch; each of these subtle stories will thrill readers with an element of surprise that will make them want to go back and see how it happened and what they missed along the way."
"Review" by , "Raw and rugged, the stories in Heathcock's collection push up against the sharp edge of a world where people live and die, and find any redemption hard-won and sometimes bittersweet."
"Review" by , “This is a big, ravishing, commanding story collection. Heathcock presents a riveting portrait of an imaginary town called Krafton: through its streets and farms and minds spin questions about civilization and wilderness, lawkeeping and lawlessness, faith and faithlessness. Each story in its way shows how we reverberate after tragedy, and how we try — and sometimes fail — to vibrate our way back toward equilibrium. Volt is (dare I say it?) electrifying.”
"Synopsis" by , A blistering collection of stories from an exhilarating new voice.
"Synopsis" by ,
A blistering collection of stories from an exhilarating new voice

One man kills another after neither will move his pickup truck from the road. A female sheriff in a flooded town attempts to cover up a murder. When a farmer harvesting a field accidentally runs over his son, his grief sets him off walking, mile after mile. A band of teens bent on destruction runs amok in a deserted town at night. As these men and women lash out at the inscrutable churn of the world around them, they find a grim measure of peace in their solitude.

Throughout Volt, Alan Heathcocks stark realism is leavened by a lyric energy that matches the brutality of the surface. And as you move through the wind-lashed landscape of these stories, faint signs of hope appear underfoot. In Volt, the work of a writer whos hell-bent on wrenching out whatever beauty this savage world has to offer, Heathcocks tales of lives set afire light up the sky like signal flares touched off in a moment of desperation.

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