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The Spot: Stories by David Means

The Spot: Stories

by David Means

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I will start off by mentioning that I found this short story collection to be refreshingly unique, gritty and, quite frankly, a bit of a downer. Means is a good story teller. He captures the moment in succinct prose to carry the reader through the story - albeit in a round about manner. All of the 13 stories have a common writing style - bring the reader in at the start in the center of a vortex, swirl outward to provide background and context and then close back where the reader starts, or near enough to the starting point. An interesting full circle approach to story-telling. The stories seem to be set in the upper American Midwest, time period interestingly vague and left up to the reader to pick a time in the past 50 years. The gritty part comes in the subject matter - railway hobos discussing knifing incidents, a crucifixion by teens, armed robberies gone wrong - that, at least for me, shrouded the stories in a blanket representative of a darker, poorer fringe element of society.

I have not read any of Means' previous works, and while I found his writing style to be strong and captivating, the stories came across as snatches of individuals struggling to make ends meet or to understand where life has landed them and I was happy to see the end of these rather grim stories. ( )
  lkernagh | Sep 6, 2010 |
past and present (but almost never future) do their own strange dance within us, and time is less about memory than it is about loss.
In the aggregate, though, as powerful as Means’s work is, this kind of existential certainty can begin to feel reflexive and repetitive, a bit of an aesthetic tic.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0865479127, Hardcover)

The Spot is an old blacksmith shed in which three men tweeze apart the intricacies of a botched bank robbery.

The Spot is a park on the Hudson River, where two lovers sense their affair is about to come to an end.

The Spot is at the bottom of Niagara Falls, where the body of a young girl floats as if caught in the currents of her own tragic story.

The Spot is in the ear of a Manhattan madman plagued by a noisy upstairs neighbor .

The Spot is a suburban hospital room in which a young father confronts his son’s potentially devastating diagnosis.

The Spot is a dusty encampment in Nebraska where a gang of inept radicals plot a revolution.

The Spot draws thirteen new stories together into a masterful collection that shows David Means at his finest: at once comically detached and wrenchingly affecting, expansive and concise, wildly inventive and firmly rooted in tradition. Means’s work has earned him comparisons to Flannery O’Connor (London Review of Books), Alice Munro, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac (Newsday), Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson (Chicago Tribune/NPR), Denis Johnson (Entertainment Weekly), Poe, Chekhov, and Carver (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), but the spot he has staked out in the American literary landscape is fully and originally his own.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:51 -0400)

Presents a collection of thirteen stories, including "The Botch," in which three robbers meet in an abandoned shed to figure out how their attempted robbery went wrong.

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