Means explores the fateful intersection where disparate lives touch and thereafter are never the same. In admirably efficient and elegant prose, he weaves a story of an angry, failing pipe supplier celebrating the second marriage of his wife's best friend to a business rival. Sucking down scotches, he thinks the groom needs "breaking in, like a new baseball glove. Someone should pour neat's-foot oil onto it and mash a fist around, grind it right in--get the rich freshness, that silver-spoon suck, out of those cheeks." Into this bitter musing stumbles a homeless man in search of a handout, and then the story ricochets forward in time to the aftermath of the encounter, a ruptured spleen, and inevitable divorce. In the space of a few pages entire lives are revealed.
Railroads figure in several tales--a mournful distant whistle, a bygone hobo culture, and the modern equivalent where the rail-beds and switching yards on the fringes of towns attract the homeless and the hapless. In the title piece, annotated incidents of arson and immolation, some real, some fiction, are strung together into a compelling album of calamity. Fierce and complex, illuminated by compassion, these are stories from the bitter edges of experience. --Victoria Jenkins --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A collection of beautifully written stories, engaging and sad, full of cosmic irony. I highly recommend this book. Ronald Alexander.Published on May 9, 2013 by Ronald D. Alexander
Do not be dissuaded by the title, Assorted Fire Events is not a bunch of stories about vaguely interesting fire events; no, it's much more than the latter. Read morePublished on October 30, 2010 by Alex C. Telander
For the most part, I found "Assorted Fire Events" a very impressive debut collection - violent, (sometimes) brutal stories delivered in Means's powerful prose, though Mean's style... Read morePublished on July 31, 2004 by Michael Murphy
These are ambitious stories because they try and have a lot to say, and they say it in a way that is idiosyncratic. Read morePublished on October 7, 2003 by J. Beevers
A perfect, concise, thirteen stories that never fail. As Jonathan Franzen states of the book's jacket, this is one of the "best books of the past ten years. Read morePublished on October 8, 2001