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The Spot

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The Spot is an old blacksmith shed in which three men tweeze apart the intricacies of a botched bank robbery.

The Spot is a park on the Hudson River, where two lovers sense their affair is about to come to an end.

The Spot is at the bottom of Niagara Falls, where the body of a young girl floats as if caught in the currents of her own tragic story.

The Spotis in the ear of a
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Hardcover, 176 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Faber & Faber (first published May 19th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 507)
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Cosimo
"Spesso la confessione più sincera e realistica di un crimine era fornita proprio dalla persona più innocente. Spesso chi aveva tutto da perdere si lanciava con audacia, come quelli che si tuffano dalle scogliere, o come i cercatori di perle. Quei ragazzi indigeni che trovavano il coraggio di entrare nell'acqua scura, le gambe che battevano piano, sforbiciando verso la luce, le braccia tese a stringere e a afferrare. Era un po' quello che doveva fare un investigatore in quelle situazioni: immerg ...more
Timothy
I enjoyed this book much less than The Secret Goldfish and Assorted Fire Events. The reason would be that the stories felt less human, less warm and more verbose. Instead of getting into the character's heads, it stories seemed to get into the author's words, often brilliant but functioning in a less plot or character driven way.
Simone Subliminalpop
David Means è un autore parsimonioso, questo è solo il suo quarto libro in più di vent’anni di carriera letteraria, ed è forse proprio per questo che il ritmo compassato delle sue storie è in grado di rappresentare così bene la realtà dei protagonisti, portarci al loro fianco come una sensazione in più, lasciando tutto il tempo necessario al lettore di vedere, comprendere, inserirsi.
Questa sua ultima raccolta intitolata “Il punto”, per me la migliore, si sarebbe potuta intitolare anche “Punti”,
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Brian
What to say about a book that took me nearly half a year to finish? Means has been compared to Flannery O'Connor, Alice Munro, Bob Dylan (?), Jack Kerouac, Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Denis Johnson, Poe, Chekhov, and Carver. That right there should have told me that this was a writer that couldn't be pinned down. And his stories would probably be bits and pieces of this and that. Well... I found his stories to be just that... bits and pieces of this and that. The short stories are mostly about ...more
Colin N.
I picked up “The Spot” after reading the glowing book review in the NY Times. Overall I thought these stories were good, but I did not find them as engaging as I had hoped.



The subject matter of the stories is dark and interesting. Drifters, hobos, bank robbers, and pimps abound and Means creates intelligent renderings of what could have come across as pulp. Means also has a distinct and unique writing style, often beginning a story right in the middle, circling out to provide details, and jumpi
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Beth
I can’t give this book a fair rating. Not because I didn’t finish it (I did, mostly), but because it just wouldn’t seem right. My gut instinct wants to give it only one star. But that would be knee jerk reaction to the fact that I found the characters to be mostly despicable doing deplorable things – rape, murder, adultery, child abuse, robbery, prostitution. I think Means pretty much covers most of the worst acts humanly possible.

Don’t get me wrong, many of the best books out there delve into
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Elizabeth
I’m more than three-quarters of the page into reading one of David Means’ short stories when I come to realize that I have been reading one long, complicatedly intricate sentence. Means stories are full of those beautifully expanded sentence that he manages so well. Means is an American writer who has had stories published in many publications. His stories are typically set in the American Midwest, where originally from. His first short story collection, A Quick Kiss of Redemption, was published ...more
Paul
Feb 08, 2012 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Pretty much fantastic. A couple stories miss the mark a bit, mostly due to having at least a toe still in the classical postmodern realm: a conceptual, episodic, polywhatever look at a man who spontaneously combusts, and a sort of fable about an unnamed actor called "the actor." Otherwise, a great collection, stronger than Means' two previous books, though it's been quite a while since I've read either. Means has been compared to Carver, and indeed he populates these stories with down-on-their-l ...more
Lee
The Cormac McCarthy of the Midwest and Hudson River? Seriously written serious stories, harsh manly humorless stuff, usually interestingly structured. I'd reckon there're two 5* stories in this collection -- the title story and the one about spontaneous human combustion -- and a 6* paragraph in one story where a father imagines how many seconds his son would pay attention to the sight of a walrus, a boat, a boat on fire, a boat on fire with passengers jumping into the water etc. With each sensat ...more
Matt
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I did _The Secret Goldfish_, another of Means' collections that I pretty enthusiastically found at the PL.

It's weird, because this should be right up my alley-- fragmented and occasionally elusive stories, a lot of which center on crimes, and low-grade criminals, all of them told in voicey fragments that are really vivid and well-written. But somehow for me, it didn't totally come together; I hesitate to say there's a misfit between the style and the stor
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Alison
I realized pretty early on that I'd read a couple of these stories before in "The New Yorker." Means is a fierce, heady writer, who spins uncomfortable, looming tales of criminals and misfits and the folks on just the other side of your last passing thought. He can set up an ominous, haunted vibe in three paragraphs or less that will take a couple of solidly sunny hours to dispel. I found myself wishing he'd kept entirely to the exploits bank robbers and hobos and junkies on the wrong side of re ...more
Zweegas
Nov 29, 2010 Zweegas marked it as to-read

The fifteen books from the NYT 100 notable books of 2010 list that I picked to add to my reading list:

Bound -- Antonya Nelson
Mr. Peanut -- Adam Ross
The Spot -- David Means
The Privileges -- Jonathan Dee
Fun With Problems -- Robert Stone
The Ask -- Sam Lipsyte
The Tenth Parallel -- Eliza Griswold
The Promise -- Jonathan Alter
Empire Of The Summer Moon -- S. C. Gwynne
Secret Historian -- Justin Spring
The Mind's Eye -- Oliver Sacks
Finishing The Hat -- Stephen Sondheim
The Honor Code -- Kwame Anthony Appiah
...more
Brad
Well, the library recalled this books, so I'm officially finished it, even if I haven't finished it. Which is to say that the first 2/3rds I read haven't really wowed me enough to make me plow through the rest of it before returning today. Means' prose are surprisingly flowery at points; while minimalism has been done to death in American short fiction, Means' reaction, at points, seems to be to engage in over-writing. Still, I'd recommend "A River in Egypt" and "Facts Toward Understanding the S ...more
Aprille
I don't really know if it is the content or the theme of this book that I don't think I really appreciate..It all seems dark and threatening..these people could be your next door neighbors. Given to the fact that I am a rainbows and unicorns kind of person..I am not at all interested in reading more of this. Might seem a bit strange considering I am right there with true life stories and such..this is ..hmm..for me..beyond dark..
Andrew
My favorite story writer out there and it's not even close. His lyricism and endlessly inventive structural choices make his stories so exciting. They're also just violent and weird in such a wonderful way. This collection starts a little slow, but the last 8 stories are phenomenal, especially the title story. I highly recommend this as well as his collections "Assorted Fire Events" and "The Secret Goldfish."
Robert
David Means is one of my favorite short story writers. He can take any story and make it different and unique. In THE SECRET GOLDFISH he displayed a wide range of narrative techniques; in THE SPOT, he seems to have become content with one basic narrative, and while most of the stories are dark and deal with some kind of crime, they are done exceedingly well.
David Legault
There's a few excellent stories throughout the collection, but I'm getting a feeling of hit and miss. The Secret Goldfish is still his best collection, but there's a few stories here (spontaneous combustion, crucifixion, a few botched robberies) that are worth returning to.
John
When I started reading this book, I immediately enjoyed it, savoring the intelligent writing. But after the third or fourth story, I grew tired of the monotonous abstractness and the ironic distance. The writing is virtuosic, but unengaging.
Lisa
May 01, 2011 Lisa added it
These stories are comprised of long, gorgeous sentences. To my ear they seem overly mannered, overworked. In some ways, like Raymond Carver without the crucial immediacy. David Means is a critical darling but I think I've had my fill.
Ric
So frustrating to read. He is undoubtedly talented, and a couple of stories are captivating. Most of them, though, are filled with amoral, reprehensible characters from whom you want to flee. Proceed with caution.
Dawn
I love that Means is a Michigan author, but this slim collection of stories was stuffed full of murder and badness, without redemption or sense. It made it tough to finish.
Joseph Riippi
"The Knocking" is one of the best stories I've read. The book version destroyed the New Yorker version. Lessened my opinion of their prose choices.
Cynthia
I liked some of the stories better than others. I found that I had to be in the right mood to tackle some of the topics in the different stories.
Lara
Dark dark dark. Bank robberies and Depression vagrancy, murders and apartment-dwelling insanity. Unsettling and weird.
Lee Monks
Alice Munro, Edith Pearlman, David Means, Tobias Wolff, then everybody else of living short story writers.
Ammon
Great stories about Okies, Hobos and Bank Heists, distilled like good short stories should be.
Joe
Generally strong stuff, with even the weaker stories saved by the language.
Karen
Short stories about profoundly unhappy people -- not my kind of book.
Annie
Amazing short stories, different from anything else out right now.
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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 Assorted Fire Events: Stories A Quick Kiss of Redemption and Other Stories The Tree Line, Kansas, 1934 The Knocking

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