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Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work: Stories Paperback – Bargain Price, November 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Open City Books; 1st edition (November 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890447471
  • ASIN: B005IV04Q6
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,330,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. An inchoate evil is hard at work in each of the 11 stunning, loosely linked stories from Brown (Driving the Heart and Other Stories), set in harsh, sparsely populated northern New England. A dark realism is established in the title tale, where a young boy drifts through the turbulent aftermath of his depressed sister's drowning, his family despondent, his pastor sanctimonious. Such angst—sometimes leavened with wry humor, but more often just unsettling—is pervasive. In Afternoon of the Sassanoa, a weary father's ego sinks the family sailboat, with unforeseen consequences for his son. In Tree, an old woman's blithe nephew levels the woods her late husband's family had nurtured for generations. And in A Fair Chance, one of the few stories with anything close to a happy ending, a young recovering alcoholic saves the life of his AA sponsor and employer. Ravaged by despair, numbed by grief and lurching toward unattainable love, the people of these gothic stories somehow never totally self-destruct. Brown's deep sympathy for his flawed characters endows these polished shorts with brilliant appeal. (Nov.)
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Review

"Imagine The Virgin Suicides within an ethical framework. These are stories that truly have some weight to them." -- Bookforum, Fall 2007

"In this fine story collection, the inhabitants of Vaughn, Maine are stalked not by Stephen King horror but by intimate afflictions of blood, accident, and history. Yet their stories are too vivid to be entirely bleak. Maine's woods and rivers, its changing light, are the beautifully rendered constants in a harsh, even malevolent, world." -- Boston Globe, November 18, 2007

"Links gem-cut stories of troubled youths, alcoholics, illicit romances, the burden of inheritance, and the bane of class, all set in the dense upper reaches of Maine, and delivers them with hope, heart, and quiet humor." -- Elle magazine, November 2007

"There's an unnerving, hazy human darkness that Jason Brown explores so well in these stories, all set around a small Maine town full of weary, complicated souls. Often Brown fixates of those just entering adulthood, an age when the twin forces of temptation and regret are most potent." (A-) -- Entertainment Weekly, November 15, 2007

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Donald R. Pollock on February 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
It would be tough to write a better collection of short stories than Brown's first, Driving The Heart, but, damn, he did it. I swear on my best dog's grave that Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work is one of the best books of fiction I've read in a couple of years. If you love short stories as much as I do, you'd be nuts not to buy this book. Forget that bestseller trash, and buy something worth the money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BJ on March 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a passionate reader of short stories, I'm always looking for that next great collection to read. I read reviews, recommendations and alot of "best of" lists. Their are always those few story collections that pop up over and over again, "Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work" is one of those!

Jason Brown's writing is highly regarded and his short story collections well known for quality.

This collection includes eleven stories, ranging from 25-30 pages in length. The recurring theme is the outdoors (lakes, rivers, trees & forests), with a dark tone to the majority of the stories.

The first two stories "She" and "Trees" left me wondering whether or not this book was right for me, but the third story "The Plains of Abraham" was proof that it was definitely was.

GOOD:

"The Plains of Abraham"
"Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work"
"Dark Room"
"River Runner"

GREAT (highly recommended):

"The Lake"
"A Fair Chance"
"Life During Peacetime"
"North"
"Afternoon of the Sassanoa"

These stories are as good as anything you'll find, I highly recommended them to any short story fan.

Other short story collections definitely worth reading are - Driving the Heart and Other Stories by Jason Brown, Poachers: Stories by Tom Franklin,
...Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark O'Neill on August 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I bought this book at the Brookline Booksmith here in Boston, the girl at the counter said "this is a great book". I had bought it based on a short New Yorker review, and also, let's face it, because of its great title.

The 11 short stories are set in and around the fictional town of Vaughn, Maine. The characters go to Portland, take a train up north towards Quebec, talk about trips to Boston, all of which roots Vaughn into the real Maine. Indeed, the book opens with a map of Vaughn showing it on the (real) Kennebec river.

The book has a historic sweep, referencing actual history (the Plains of Abraham where the British General James Wolfe fought the French in the Battle of Quebec) as well as the history of the book characters and of Vaughn itself. One story starts "I belonged to a large family that had lived in the same town in Maine for over two hundred years". Reading the stories, many about traumatic events such as a drowning, you know that the protagonists will still be living together, in the same place in Maine, for the rest of their lives. You get the feeling that the place itself has a long memory.

The writing moves from matter-of-fact prose ("A hockey game started near shore, mostly fathers and sons and brothers in plaid jackets and blue caps, choosing sides according to size"), to Maine logging jargon ("Nothing in the river but sinkers and bark cake and raw waste from sixteen towns coating the bottom, methane bubbling up through the water and pulp and booms waiting for a freshet"), to beauty ("He turned around and looked up, as if at a mountain peak or a descending plane, but there was nothing above except a line of high white clouds pulling up over the valley like a cold sheet").

Highly recommended. I pass on the recommendation from the Brookline Booksmith counter assistant.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Richter on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work: Stories

This is a fantastic collection. Read Brown's "Trees," in which the woods stand as a watchful, powerful central character. All of Brown's stories are like those woods: deep, dark, and full of secrets, a place you're drawn to again and again.
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