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Controlled Burn: Stories of Prison, Crime, and Men Hardcover – April 5, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
The book's opener, "Taciturnity", sets the tone for all that follows: a tough old woman orders local tree men to cut down the three ancient oaks on her property that provide shade for her new neighbor, a policeman who didn't cut her grandson any slack. Here are encapsulated a number of the books' recurring motifs: terse blue collar workers, tough old-timers, ambivalence and suspicion toward the law, and a definite sense of making one's own justice. "Outside Work Detail" is set in a minimum security prison, where men detailed to dig graves in the frozen ground watch as a deer impales itself on an electrified fence and bleeds to death. The symbolism is perhaps a little too in-your-face, but it works. "El Rey" is a brutal story revolving around an impromptu boxing match at a logging camp between the local hard case a Latino fighter up from New York. "Crank" is about a couple guys putting together a meth lab in the woods and all the bad stuff that leads to.Read more ›
These are the most raw, brutal, lyrical and hard stories I've read in an age.
I meant to read a story a night and ended up consuming the entire book at once. There is a part of every human being capable of creating only grief and ruin, leaving chaos in their wake. Wolven writes of these people.
The stories are intertwined over years, location or happenstance who's protagonists cross over into oblivion of their own making. It is an oblivion we've all at least set a toe into, scuttling away, scared by what we saw and felt. The men in these stories embraced it, breathing it into every cell.
Wolven's work has appeared in the Mississippi Review and three (2002, 2003, 2004) Best American Mysteries collections. He is a must read for any connoisseur of the short story.
I bought this book after reading only a few reviews and it paid off. "Controlled Burn" is one of the best short story collections I've read in awhile.
The book has thirteen stories, all worth reading!
After reading the first two stories, I felt the writing was great, but the stories were slow and very humble. Once you hit the third story "El Rey", the book never looks back and every story gets better and better.
Meth dealers, boxers, fugitives, alcoholics, fathers, sons, gangs, bounty hunters, dogs - their all here in "Controlled Burn".
A few that really blew me away -
Ball Lightning Reported
The Copper Kings
A great collection, if you enjoy short stories, this book is a must read!
If you read "Controlled Burn" and enjoyed it, also check out "Poachers" by Tom Franklin & "The Hotel Eden" by Ron Carlson, both amazing books of short stories.
Outside Work Detail is the tour de force of this bunch. In a prison tale on par with Stephen King's work, two St. Johnsbury, Vermont convicts (that have endured too much) dig graves for their fellow inmates in the prison cemetery during a snow storm, only to witness an act of nature that's almost cruelly indescribable. The three main characters - Ray Cooper, Russ Harper, and Reb Phillips - are spot on, and their spooky dealings are wryly observed. My favorite line? "That's one thing you don't get on the outside, to watch your own grave dug..."
Next to that, Tigers is a melancholy stunner. Ostensibly a tale of love gone wrong, the story concentrates on Ann Latham, her young son Jimmy, and her tree-cutting boyfriend, Mark Hoff. Parts of this tale of triangulation are saccharin sweet, but by the very end, Wolven tears your heart out and laughingly throws it on the floor. I really find Wolven's use of return and reverberation in this story to be irresistible, and I couldn't have done a better job if I'd written it myself! If you can't cry on the inside some, while you're reading this account, you're truly not human.
Taciturnity, the book opener, is a nine page account of foreboding. I love the language and the dialogue, as it is exactly perfect.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm following Scott Wolven's work for several years now. One of the best writers of our time, Wolven has been under the radar way too long. Read morePublished on November 15, 2010 by Charlie Stella
I enjoyed it very much. The stories were all similarly related to each other and very gripping. A great quick read.Published on September 9, 2005 by Martin Brennan
Finally one of those cat stroking, pillow fluffing editors peeled their eyes away from their Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reruns to publish something original. Read morePublished on August 22, 2005 by Brandon Buster
Many of these stories are strong and depict harder, tougher characters than the ones I'm used to reading. Read morePublished on August 2, 2005 by Ryan
The characters are weak, the dialogue is weak and the plots are so-so. However, he writes well style-wise. Overall, a disappointment.Published on April 7, 2005 by mysteryreader