Synopses & Reviews
Scott Snyders 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 Snyders wondrous imagination theres 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 couples relationship is fractured when one of them becomes obsessed with an inmate at the womens prison next door.
Dark, funny, powerful, this debut collection underscores the remarkable gifts of a fiercely original young writer.
From the Hardcover edition.
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
, and other journals. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York.
From the Hardcover edition.
Reading Group Guide
Dark, funny, and powerful, Voodoo Heart is a debut collection of stories from Scott Snyder, a fiercely original young writer with a playfully deranged voice unlike any other. The seemingly normal and even mundane lives of his protagonists are confronted by bizarre situations that result in funny and heartbreaking stories. These fanciful and dark characters are oddly relatable and portray the unexpectedness and irrationality of life. Enter a world in which a man breaks into a prison at night to ask a convicted murderer if his heart is good or evil; where a man spends his days chasing a blimp across America in which he thinks girlfriend has escaped; or where an engaged couples relationship is fractured when one of them becomes obsessed with an inmate at the womens prison next door. Scott Snyders world is impossible to forget.
1. Why is this book named after the story Voodoo Heart?
Is this story a good representation of all the stories in the collection? Is it the best story?
2. A lot of the struggles and heartache within these stories are the result of irrational hopes and beliefs. Do you think the author shows normal feelings and thoughts or are they exceptional and bizarre?
3. Many of the characters go to great lengths for love or escape. Do you think you could ever be compelled to go to these lengths?
4. What if the characters just told each other the truth? How would that change the stories? For example, what if L.J. told the truth to Gay in Happy, Fish Plus Coin, about why he was hiding?
5. These characters seemingly never live in the present-they are always looking to the past or toward the future. What makes us look for the unseen or the ideal? Do you think this is why the characters live so out of the ordinary?
6. All of the stories in Voodoo Heart show isolated worlds away from reality-amusement parks, prison, camp, a wrecking yard, a sideshow attraction. Why do you think the author includes these places? What do they add to the stories? Do you think it is strange that all the romantic relationships start up in these places?
7. In About Face, Miles Fergus states “Its funny how a hit like that can be all it takes to knock you off course. Hardly more than a tap or nudge, and suddenly you find that youve become someone entirely new, some dark version of your self you never thought possible.” Do you think this statement is true? Can a person turn down the wrong path because of one incident? Can you point out the event in the stories where the characters turn this corner?
8. All of the characters have a side that is never quite explained. In Happy, Fish Plus Coin, why do you think Gay is running? In Blue Yodel, do you think something happened between Claire and Pres that would give Pres reason to think she ran off in a blimp? Why do you think the characters are never fully explained?
9. Why do you think some of the stories are in first person and some are in third? How do these points of view add to and change the story?
10. There are references to blimps or planes in all of these stories. Country music is also referenced in all of them. Why do you think this is? Do these references add to the stories? How?
11. Many of the main characters are men who get hurt by women. Do the male characters bring pain upon themselves?
12. These stories are set in distinctly American settings. Why do you think this is? Do you think Snyder is commenting on the American experience?
13. What do you think happens to the characters after the stories end? What do you think happens to Jacob in Voodoo Heart?
14. What is the overall message of these stories? Is there one? How would you describe this book to a friend? Funny, bizarre, magical, sad, truthful…?