From Publishers Weekly
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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"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