Simon A. Smith's Reviews > Volt

Volt by Alan Heathcock
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's review
Dec 30, 2016

it was ok
bookshelves: short-fiction
Read from November 10 to December 30, 2016

Somewhere around 2.5 stars for me. Can't go much higher because the stories all seemed the same - dismal and twisted and bleak in the same exact manner. I'm not at all opposed to dark subject matter, but I'm not as convinced as some others seem to be that Heathcock is a master of the form. His characters seem flat and dead, no unique or intriguing spark. I've seen and read about these characters too many times before. The plots seem mostly driven by journeys toward, around or through looming disasters, and I'm not sure that's a strategy or formula that can sustain for 200 pages. Like any other tool or method, it gets old and tired after awhile. The narrative is also a bit showy. What I mean is that Heathcock has a tendency to show his hand too much; he intervenes as the writer so that some of the dialogue and descriptions seem more related to his thoughts and maneuvers rather than the characters'. I could see too many cracks and seams, could sense him trying to get out of his own way. Maybe it's because I recently read Donald Ray Pollock (the author Heathcock gets compared to the most) and found Pollock to be head and shoulders above in all aspects of craft, but I just couldn't get into it.

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Reading Progress

12/30/2016 marked as: to-read
12/30/2016 marked as: read

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