Synopses & Reviews
Readers familiar with David Means' electrifying work in the Los Angeles Times Book Prizewinning Assorted Fire Events will recognize his extraordinary vision in The Secret Goldfish. A trio of erotically charged kids goes on a crime spree in Michigan; a goldfish bears witness to the demise of a Connecticut marriage; and an extremely unlucky man is stalked by lightning. This dazzling new collection reveals Means' rare talent for the short story and establishes his place among the American masters.
"The characters in this imaginative and penetrating story collection a man hounded by lightning strikes, a driver blown off the Mackinac bridge, a pianist whose fingers stop working, a woman who slaughters her boyfriend after ambiguous consultations with Jesus and the devil, a bog man roused from his shallow grave are beset by bolts from the blue. Sometimes the victims and sometimes the perpetrators of calamity, they struggle to extract meaning and the occasional glimpses of grace and beauty from the chaos and brutality that disrupt their lives. Means, author of the acclaimed story collection Assorted Fire Events, probes a broad range of social registers, from junkies and criminals festering in the postindustrial decay of northern Michigan's iron range to the chilly adulteries of the artsy New York haute bourgeoisie, linking them into a bleak, sometimes apocalyptic panorama of the precariousness of life in a country that 'could eat anything, absolutely anything, up.' His uncompromising vision rarely indulges anything more comforting than harsh poetic epiphanies, inexplicable moments of clarity gleaned from random encounters with destruction; the story 'Michigan Death Trip,' a litany of demise from nonnatural causes, is emblematic of the book's sensibility. But every so often, as with the titular goldfish who endures, and even prevails, when his tank is neglected by a family in the throes of divorce, a happy ending slips through. Agent, Andrew Wylie. 5-city author tour. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Though less flashy, they cut at least as close to the bone as Means's more obvious tours de force. Black/bleak comedies of moral and spiritual breakdown." Kirkus Reviews
"In each of these stories, Means reveals the truth of our lives the way great art always has by making us see the world as it painfully is, not as our comfortable habits hide it from us. David Means is a brilliant new master of the short story who fully understands and respects the form's power." Milkwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Startling....Means's stories tug at our most entrenched fears of what life could become with a single misstep, each one harder than the last to look away from." Vogue
"The language is coarse and is thin on the style that Means used so well in the past....There is a variety of so-called stories that don't seem like stories at all. They contain various writing styles, often lacking thought and unity, and seem more like creative writing exercises." Denver Post
"[Means] uses some of the most sharp-edged and beautifully spare language of any writer of his generation, in a voice that seems carved out of the American soil." Chicago Tribune
"Means has the uncanny ability to take the ordinary and to place it in a shifting landscape that unsettles the reader. The only problem is that at times this can make for tedious reading, and it is often done at the expense of the stories themselves..." San Francisco Chronicle
"The Secret Goldfish will likely enhance his reputation further as a first-rate author of short fiction, a bold and creative voice contributing to one of America's most enduring literary traditions." San Antonio Express-News
From the Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning author of Assorted Fire Events comes an extraordinary story collection.
About the Author
David Means's previous book, Assorted Fire Events, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's magazine, Esquire, McSweeney's, and numerous other publications. His work was included in The Best American Mystery Stories 2001. Born and raised in Michigan, he lives in Nyack, New York.