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The Spot: Stories Hardcover – May 25, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A natural storyteller, Means (The Secret Goldfish) presents 13 nuanced tales of wanderlust and transgression. Hoboes around a campfire spin elaborate yarns in two of the richest stories, offering just enough confession to keep the others' interest: The Blade finds an improbable friendship between an old geezer and a young junkie, culminating in a requisite blade-to-the-throat story; while The Junction pursues a vagrant who begs food at a farmhouse that is strikingly similar to the home he grew up in. The American landscape is vividly sketched in these tales, traversed by the Bonnie-and-Clyde meets Charles Starkweather team of young bank robbers in Nebraska, and the manipulative con man of Oklahoma. Similarly, the title story details a jaunty pimp's shameless exploitation of a girl with a horrific past, culminating in a grim discovery at Niagara Falls. There's not an off note to be found in Means's prose, and he proves to be remarkably adept at locating the sublime in the unseemly. (June)
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From Booklist

In three previous collections, Means proved himself a master of the short form, earning comparisons to O'Connor and Carver for his tight, energetic sentences. The 13 luminous stories in his fourth collection are just as strong. Here Means articulates the impulsiveness of angst-driven loners, including the homeless who've lost their faith in others and drifters whose only means of survival is their tale, whether true or otherwise. In the title story, a pimp, schooled in the Bible and disguised as a Northern Michigan farmer, tells a client about a girl whose drowning was his fault, and whose father followed her body to Niagara Falls. A group of hoboes swap stories involving knives until one man's silence betrays his refusal to reveal the tale of revenge that brought him to this place. A man assuming the worst for his ailing son wraps up his son's old toys and arranges an early Christmas. Darkly comic and rich in language and drama, Means' cerebral tales are astute, amusing, and companionable. --Jonathan Fullmer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865479127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865479128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,532,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Means, an internationally acclaimed fiction writer, was born and raised in Michigan. His second collection of stories, ASSORTED FIRE EVENTS, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and earned a National Book Critics Circle nomination. His third book, THE SECRET GOLDFISH, received widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story prize. His fourth book, THE SPOT, was selected as a 2010 Notable Book by The New York Times, and won an O. Henry Prize. His books have been translated into eight language. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous other publications.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Johnson on June 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Spot is David Means's fourth collection of stories, and he continues to write strongly about men, vagrants, and small time charlatans with a subdued grace that is mature and skilled and interesting. His midwestern stories and rural New York stories are all very good. Two of three of his NYC stories seemed out of place (Knocking, River in Egypt), while his third NYC story (Reading Chekov), despite lacking the direct midwestern and rural tones, still came across, to me, very nicely. That said, David is a superb short story writer and this collection is very well written and was definitely worth the wait.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Books on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
David Means packs more in five pages than most writers do in five books, and nowhere is this sublime narrative economy more on display than in his new collection, The Spot. His stories track the sorrows of the empire wilderness, the anatomy of sudden violence, the retreat into self in the face of trauma. They're also entertaining, thoughtful, and heartbreaking. No one else writes like David Means, and any serious student of fiction should be familiar with his work.
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By Chris Lopez on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
David means latest collection (his 4th) of short stories, "The Spot," is spot on. I've been a fan of Mean's work for years and was exceedingly delighted when I learned that this new collection was coming out. Exceptional short story writers are rare indeed -- there's not the market for them that there is for novels -- but Means is one of the best working today. He packs more into a six page short story than most contemporary novelists can fit into 300+ pages. You know he's good, because his stories are the kind that you want to read again and again. I just finished "The Spot," and I've already begun reading it again from the beginning, plus I plan on returning to his earlier collections soon.

Being a native of Michigan my favorite stories are the ones that are about or at least reference the state, but they are all good. A stronger collection I have not read in some time.
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