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Assorted Fire Events: Stories

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  329 Ratings  ·  37 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 Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Feb 12, 2017 Cat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting exploration of where you can take short stories in terms of point of view, structure etc. It felt a little forced at times, though; A literary experimentation; An opportunity for the writer to demonstrate how unique, quirky and elegant his characters' view of the world was (although if/once I was in their heads it all felt too similar in tone and eloquence and failed to allow me to engage with the character on the emotional level). Most of the stories somehow left me feeling dissa ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
è una rilettura, ma mi sono accorta che me li ricordo benissimo...tutti...:-P
Nov 30, 2016 Bingo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that make you stop and look around, that make you see things differently. Like David Searcy and 99% Invisible. Very good.
Gary Armstrong
Dec 28, 2014 Gary Armstrong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 26, 2016 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 08, 2010 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tim Love
Apr 18, 2016 Tim Love rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since hearing his Goldfish story I've been looking for books by him. It was worth the wait. This guy can write. Not much dialog though. Deaths figure in many of the stories. He can zoom in on action
but he's not a 'here and now' writer. He's happy to start a story with a journalistic info-dump. His endings are open - sometime formally so

The characters hoard special moments - not so much epiphanies (though sometimes dying people figure), more often mundane events, an everyday substitute for the s
Dec 11, 2007 Phayvanh rated it it was ok  ·  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
Oct 24, 2007 Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2016 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 13 stories, David Means paints vivid portraits of the marginalized, miscreants, and malingerers at the edge of American society. Standouts include "The Grip," in which an inexperienced rail rider mistimes his jump onto a moving boxcar and must hang on for dear life, and "The Interruption," where a homeless man's foray into a hotel forever changes the lives of those he encounters. Place is a vital component of each tale, as the characters shape and are shaped by their mostly Hudson Valley or r ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 10, 2013 Caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 05, 2010 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldnt-finish
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.
Tom Coiner
Aug 21, 2007 Tom Coiner rated it it was amazing  ·  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.

Benjamin Obler
Apr 16, 2012 Benjamin Obler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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.
Deborah J
Mar 31, 2016 Deborah J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very glad I gave Means another go as this is a tremendous collection of short stories. "The Interruption" is riveting although I dreaded turning the page, such was the sense of impending doom. The characters are often fragile and ordinary but at the same time unique, and somehow very American. Powerful stuff.
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)
Feb 08, 2008 Kilean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Jul 20, 2015 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uncommonly good. Almost every story a gem. A sad, bleak little gem, typically in which someone dies or just died, but still a gem.
Samuel Crenshaw
Jan 09, 2014 Samuel Crenshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible collection of short stories that captivate you with deep imagery and intriguing characters. This is simply a must read!
G Lee
G Lee rated it really liked it
Jul 15, 2013
Maria rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2013
D.T. rated it it was amazing
Aug 02, 2015
Sarah Holz
Sarah Holz rated it it was ok
Jan 24, 2011
David Baldwin
David Baldwin rated it really liked it
Mar 05, 2011
francescanna rated it really liked it
Jun 04, 2013
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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...

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