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Assorted Fire Events: Stories

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  251 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Upon its publication, Assorted Fire Events won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and received tremendous critical praise. Ranging across America, taking in a breathtaking array of voices and experiences, this story collection now stands as one of the finest of our time.
ebook, 192 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Faber & Faber (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Patrick Neylan
It begins with two words: "THE DECLIVITY..." and in the stark brutality of those capitals - one word small and common, the other strange, self-consciously artful in its unfamiliarity - the reader feels the beads of sweat prinking into glistening existence on his soon-to-be-furrowed brow, for by those two words and those two words alone, he knows he is in the grip of Great American Literature: remorseless and unforgiving in its brooding power drawn from the primeval heart of that young, dark cont ...more
Gary Armstrong
The sheer scope of a novel allows authors to develop plots and craft three dimensional characters that can stimulate readers; the short story writer, denied this luxury, needs to be an exquisite artist to achieve audience engagement: David Means embodies this excellence in an astounding first collection of stories.

The title of this work, Assorted Fire Events, alludes to one of the pieces contained, although it can serve as a characterisation of the work as a whole, as many of the stories deal wi
...more
Casey
In Assorted Fire Events David Means seems to have found the perfect balance--at least to my taste--of story with mild postmodern/experimental textual flairs here and there. For example, in two of the short pieces in the collection, "What They Did," and "The Woodcutter," he writes without paragraph breaks; he employs footnotes in "The Interruption," and in the footnotes in "Assorted Fire Events" he plays on the reader's expectations of fact and fiction (similar to Tim O'brien's novel, In the Lake ...more
Alex Telander
Do not be dissuaded by the title, Assorted Fire Events is not a bunch of stories about vaguely interesting fire events; no, it’s much more than the latter. David Means brings us thirteen new stories, all different and unique, making a very interesting read.

“The piece he stepped on, from an old malt liquor bottle, was as jagged as the French Alps, the round base of the bottle forming a perfect support for the protrusion . . . it went into his heel cleanly, cutting firmly into the hard pad, openin
...more
Phayvanh
May 06, 2008 Phayvanh rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beach readers
Recommended to Phayvanh by: bookstore browse
I know this deserves more than 2 stars, but that what it's got. Frankly, it's just not my kind of book. Not enough inner turmoil or angst or dread for me. Did I say that? I mean, it's there--it just didn't move me.

This is my first David Means book, and the cover practically sold itself, on top of the fact that I'd wanted to read a short story collection about a series of fires. (Seriously, I feel like I manifested this out of thin air.) So I put it on my Amazon Wish List. And Santa gave it to m
...more
Lawrence
I seemed to gravitate to short stories of late and again they're always on the sad and melancholy side. I really like the majority of the stories here. The writing is crisp and conveys a real emotional impact in the stories, the shocking sense of loss, of failure, of expectations and hope thwarted, of missed connections, and of senseless shocking violence encountered. There a great contrasts - between characters and their situations, present and past, etc., presented in the stories. Particular f ...more
Caroline
Cohesive. Compelling images from the rust belt. Unfortunately, this book is drowning in its heteronormative masculinity. For one thing, it needs a counterpart where women actually do things. Not a single woman in this book actually does anything other than have PIV intercourse with a man. Oh.. there is a bit of pregnant belly-rubbing and hanging of laundry on clotheslines. Right! Stereotypes of masculinity covered in this text include: fighting, wearing Italian shoes, drinking scotch, driving a ...more
Katie
Jan 15, 2008 Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Human beings
Shelves: short-stories
If you want to know how to write a short story that knocks the socks off, go ahead and pick up this book. Keep in mind, you may want to read the stories over and over to see how he does it. This guy is amazing.

The stories focus on individuals who are hanging out in low places. The stories are precise, unpredictable, and lyrical. I am (so far) consistently surprised by these stories without feeling that the author had to push his characters into unnatural action.

His work is similar to Raymond Car
...more
Mark
i just discovered this writer. he's from the midwest and there are a lot of rural and semi-rural settings--lakes, places featuring cornfields and ditches and newly constructed houses in the woods--that i totally relate to as i grew up in semi-rural wisconsin. but what's coolest about means is how interestingly dense his sentences are and how he moves around in his stories in time. he's experimental in a deep and subtle alice munro kind of way rather than a jonathan safran foer kind of way. his f ...more
Tom Coiner
Aug 21, 2007 Tom Coiner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: moderns
David Means is the greatest. Out of all the short stories I have read, by Roald Dahl, Raymond Carver, Dave Eggers, dozens of other writers, and countless series of Best American stories, David Means is the best.

This guy has only written three books and definitely hasn't gotten the attention he deserves. Buy his books, search for them on the web, take them out from the library, anything to give this great, hard-working writer the press he deserves.

Jen
If you have a story about how you don't want anyone to die anymore in your stories - it's a hint that maybe you should write stories about something else. First one is about a beating, second one's a flashback to a brother dying, third one's a little girl - sheesh, this is why I hate short stories. They just condense the tragedy to be consumed faster and you don't even care because you don't know the characters. I may or may not finish it.
Benjamin Obler
I'll be adding a story from this collection to my fiction workshop at The Loft. The collection has received much praise and some awards as well, and I believe it is well deserved. Means is an author who I wish I knew better and devoted more time. He is perhaps somewhat cerebral, and may be appreciated most as a practitioner of the short form. These stories have depth and pungency.
Samuel Crenshaw
An incredible collection of short stories that captivate you with deep imagery and intriguing characters. This is simply a must read!
David Legault
Pretty good collection from one of my favorite short story writers, but it couldn't compare to "The Secret Goldfish."

Stories about the homeless men/train riding stories were standouts (the second half seemed to have some filler)
Kilean
Re-reading this one for about the third time now. The range of perspectives in these stories, sometimes even within a single story, such as the first one, is wide and deep.
Daddy
uneven stories, some even slightly unhinged, but the good one or two is worth looking into
Sage Latorra
Each story was wonderful, but taken as a collection they borded on the repetitive.
Etanouye
Grad school fiction about deep things like Vietnam and death.
Terri Klemetson
I'm went through a short stories phase, skimmed this pretty fast.
Sidik Fofana
SIX WORD REVIEW: It's more my own reading shortcomings.
L.E.
Means somehow made death a motif.
Greg
One of my favorite books of all time.
Jay
Jan 04, 2008 Jay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jan Hus
Frictive strip
Billy
Sep 27, 2007 Billy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People looking for a reminder of the unequal distribution of literary talent
Ow.
Nick Bell
Nick Bell marked it as to-read
Jan 27, 2015
Michelle
Michelle marked it as to-read
Jan 27, 2015
Sara Diana
Sara Diana marked it as to-read
Jan 17, 2015
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David Means (born 1961) is an American writer based in Nyack, New York. His short stories have appeared in many publications, including Esquire, The New Yorker, and Harper's. They are frequently set in the Midwest or the Rust Belt, or along the Hudson River in New York.
More about David Means...
The Secret Goldfish: Stories The Spot The Knocking A Quick Kiss of Redemption and Other Stories The Tree Line, Kansas, 1934

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