From a married man consummating a hazy summer affair and getting lost in a reverie that explains the "far-away look in his eyes" ("Coitus") to a recently widowed mother who must decide what to do with a video of her honeymoon love-making ("The Widow Predicament"), David Means probes the depths of the human heart. The stories collected here range the American landscape: suburban sprawl leads to disastrous consequences in Pushcart Prize-winning "What They Did;" a Depression-era hobo holds on to a freight train that roars through the desert night as well as his scattered past ("The Grip"); sneaking into a wedding reception, a homeless man forever changes the lives of all present ("The Interruption"); and in "The Railroad Incident," a business executive sheds his shoes for an evening walk straight into the heart of darkness. Everywhere crystalline moments emerge that seem strange yet gritty and remarkably real. Means never fails to find the locus of grace and redemption in the most complex, and sometimes horrifying situations.
In these stories we find a major talent honing his skills, a gambler willing to push the limits while, at the same time, taking great care in playing his cards. Long anticipated, Assorted Fire Events will surely stand alongside the great story collections of our time. In an age of hype and hyperbole, this is distinctly the real thing: a book that has already garnered the respect and admiration of his peers. David Means is, without a doubt, one of America's best short story writers. As Jonathan Franzen states: "this is food for the hungry."...Continua