Glee's Reviews > Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work: Stories

Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown
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Nov 14, 2010

did not like it

I had a really hard time with this book. The writing is truly amazing, from a literary/craftsman point of view. But reading it was a very unpleasant experience. If Stephen King's descriptions of Maine don't keep you away, try this book. I don't mean to compare the two authors because they couldn't be more different, not just in terms of skill, but King is so ham-handed and brutal, and Brown is so elegant, spare and haunting. And yet. Truly a hatchet job on Maine. Or any other cold and harsh environments, populated by people in poverty (of spirit as much as of money) and hard luck. What's that old joke -- if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all?

The horrors in this book are about quiet desperate lives being lived on the margins of nowhere. No hope. And glimmers of hope are crushed, making you sorry you ever had the temerity to hope. Kids falling through the ice in winter and drowning. Lissome teenagers implying unwanted sexual attention from adults, who are then shunned or killed. And it is never clear what is real and what is not.

I have a similar complaint about Joan Didion -- exquisite prose squandered on bleakness.
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