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A Quick Kiss of Redemption and Other Stories: & Other Stories Hardcover – June, 1991

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 15 stories, Means's characters try to understand one another, but they rarely succeed. Perpetual ships passing in the night, these people may unintentionally get into fistfights ("McGregor's Day On"), or drift into mild infidelities while swimming at the beach ("At Point Lookout") or save hundreds of shoeboxes filled with obscure clippings and bits of photographs ("The Library of Desire"). In the title story, teenagers, little more than strangers to each other, neck in the loft of a church during a service. Afterward, as they go down the ladder, the narrator feels "an urge to shout some brilliant, significant things at her," but doesn't, because "the words were gone that once explained what we did or what made us do it." The writing in this debut collection doesn't always flow; sometimes there is a self-conscious emphasis on meaningfulness. But the author has a good ear and a sense of what makes a story, and this is an encouraging beginning.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Means shows a talent for strong visual images in this first collection, but, unfortunately, few of the stories themselves have an equally strong impact. The majority of the pieces deal with various aspects of male sexuality and rites of passage--from coming of age to acknowledging a sister's active sex life to homosexuality, the sometimes elusive quality of marital sex and the sexuality of the old and ill. ``A Myth of Devotion,'' about a marriage on the rocks on the Costa del Sol, where an exhibitionistic young woman captures the imagination and lust of all the males on the beach, is perhaps one of the most poignant. In ``Library of Desire,'' a nephew, in search of better understanding, pores through boxes of old and odd clippings that his gay uncle has left him. In ``Close Your Eyes,'' a sympathetic neighbor discovers two Vietnam buddies, one white and one black, kissing in the grass. In ``A Question of Toby,'' an adulterous preacher prepares to humiliate his son when the boy is caught by his mother abusing himself. And in the effective title story, a young boy is initiated into the way of sex while kissing in the upper nooks of a church as services are in progress. Means's stories all have their moments and, in most cases, an ease of voice--but without a strong sense of place or exceptional dialogue, they fail to leave a lasting impression. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (June 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688094597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688094591
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,941,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After being deeply impressed with Means' ASSORTED FIRE EVENTS I needed more. This book is out of print, having met with lukewarm reviews when it was published in 1991. Well, there ARE copies available and I would urge any reader who treasures the art of short stories to find a copy. All of the seeds of the brilliant new book (Assorted Fire Events) were planted in A QUICK KISS... - it just took some time for the seeds to grow into the significant product now before us. Means is an enormously gifted author, a fertile mind with imaginative flights of fancy that push the envelope of bizzare and nihilism, a writer who can find in the most unlikely characters reasons for uncovering universal truths and universal fears. Most of these stories seem like childhood remembrances of life in the midwest, but I doubt any are autobiographical in that they are packed with unusually strange characters. Means delves into adolescent struggles with coming of age, the shock of discovering family secrets, observance of paranormal events, and every time he comes up with a unique story that while it completely informs us, it also trails off in the end like an invitation to follow the author to the next strange happening. I think this David Means is a brilliant mind and I hope he will consider gifting us with a full fledged long novel. But for now, he sits with the royalty of gifted short story writers - from any time in history. I can't recommend this Means higly enough!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The stories have a common theme of a relationship based on sex that breaks up. In one a marriage ends. In two or three of them men have brief homosexual affairs. Some are set in a mid-west childhood. Some describe a family with a psychotic daughter but I don't think they'd be useful to a family with such a daughter and I suspect the author would disdain fiction with a helpful purpose. The mentally ill do not get cured. Their eyes become "glassy with lithium" (no such side-effect of lithium I've ever come across but "realism" in literature often means the literary effect of realism rather than real realism). They are elegantly written. I suppose the style is minimalist or dirty realism, at least I thought of Raymond Carver. Mundane events and shabby surrounding are described in careful detail. The only one with real sense of comedy is "A Quick Kiss of Redemption" where teenagers explore a hidden passage in a church when they should be in Sunday school and find themselves looking down at the congregation as service starts and make out above the worshippers. Even that one ends on a pessimistic note. The stories often end in those profound short-story-ending sentences that are supposed to tell us something meaningful about life such as "There will be plenty of things I don't understand, things that I will do and regret long after they're over, things that will take a long time to forgive" which remind me of the deep wisdom of the ancient Bulgarian proverb "no leg is too short to reach the ground." So why five stars? They're good. They are very, very good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The stories have a common theme of a relationship based on sex that breaks up. In one a marriage ends. In two or three of them men have brief homosexual affairs. Some are set in a mid-west childhood. Some describe a family with a psychotic daughter but I don't think they'd be useful to a family with such a daughter and I suspect the author would disdain fiction with a helpful purpose. The mentally ill do not get cured. Their eyes become "glassy with lithium" (no such side-effect of lithium I've ever come across but "realism" in literature often means the literary effect of realism rather than real realism). They are elegantly written. I suppose the style is minimalist or dirty realism, at least I thought of Raymond Carver. Mundane events and shabby surrounding are described in careful detail. The only one with real sense of comedy is "A Quick Kiss of Redemption" where teenagers explore a hiden passage in a church when they should be in Sunday school and find themselves looking down at the congregation as service starts and make out above the worshippers. Even that one ends on a pessimistic note.
The stories often end in those profound short-story-ending sentences that are supposed to tell us something meaningful about life such as "There will be plenty of things I don't understand, things that I will do and regret long after they're over, things that will take a long time to forgive" which remind me of the profound wisdom of the ancient Bulgarian proverb "no leg is too short to reach the ground."
So why five stars? They're good. They are very, very good.
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Format: Hardcover
Many of these stories took me by surprise and I delighted in the tone and style of Mean's writing.
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