Casey's Reviews > Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work

Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown
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's review
Aug 04, 10

really liked it
Read from July 30 to August 02, 2010

Thematically, the 11 stories in Jason Brown's second collection pick up where his first left off. We're introduced to characters who are haunted by their pasts, be it their blood, or addiction, or lost loved ones, though this time, the stories are all set in the small northern New England town of Vaughn. There are several first person narrators, but they don't dominate this collection as they did his first.

Like the stories in Driving the Heart, many of these are long stories that sometimes seem to meander, but they always deliver. Many times Brown will introduce a strong image/theme early in a story, only to seemingly abandon it, but everytime this happens, the reader is rewarded when the image/theme comes back--stronger and more meaningful--at the end.

My four favorite stories in the collection, "Trees," "Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work," "A Fair Chance," and "Afternoon of the Sassanoa" are relatively linear stories, and each has a strong sense of place, action, and both interior and exterior conflict. The characters in these stories struggle with and against themselves and their world and many times it seems they don't understand their problems and how to deal with them. Or if they do, they cannot articulate it. To me, that makes for great fiction.

On a personal note, Jason Brown is going to be the visiting writer at the MFA program where I attend, so I'm looking forward to meeting and working with him. If he's half as a good a teacher as he is a writer, we should be in good hands.

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