An extraordinary second collection of short stories from an author who is set to become one of America’s leading literary voices.
In the tradition of Raymond Carver or Tobias Wolff, these are all-encompassing stories of the American psyche; of love and loss; of the landscape and its people. A goldfish circles in its bowl, refusing to die, becoming the silent focus of a difficult family life; a pianist loses his talents as he is forced to question the meaning of love and commitment. Through a blend of lyricism and humour, these stories of ordinary human dilemmas take flight and become mythical and universal. David Means is a rare writer who transports us to the heart of what it is to be human.
Reviews of The Secret Goldfish
- “Means’ stories meld literary influences from diverse traditions: mainstream writers like Alice Munro and Beat voices like Jack Kerouac. Mix in the impact of singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, and the resulting fiction is uniquely Means’ own-an innovative approach to form, an eerie, somber tone and characters so out of place in American society they seem disposable.” Newsday
- “Aims toward a mythology of the modern heartland…so lovely I want to quote the whole thing.” Los Angeles Times
- “Vivid… Means’s last collection, Assorted Fire Events was a finalist for the National Book Award…the stories here are just as unsentimental and tightly wound.” New York Times Book Review
- “Achingly intelligent…With his jump-cut shifts, startling connections and breathtaking disconnections the author stands among our most gifted younger writers.” New York Times
- “David Means moves from strength to strength. In these new stories, men and women live lives in which loss and its transcendence combine and become inseparable, making a light that illuminates not only the world on the page, but the larger world beyond. Means is a courageous writer, intelligent and funny and humane. His love for his characters is always evident. The pleasure in reading THE SECRET GOLDFISH is tremendous.” Donald Antrim, author of THE VERIFICATIONIST and ELECT MR. ROBINSON FOR A BETTER WORLD
- “David Means is an anatomist of disaster. His propulsive, riveting, wonderfully atmospheric stories are all poised at the moment of catastrophe, whether natural, automotive or marital. It is Means’ signature talent to view the lives of his characters, and life itself, from somewhere just beyond, in a position of maximum understanding and honorable detachment. A semi-divine vantage point for the examination of hopelessly human affairs.” Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex