Lara's Reviews > Volt

Volt by Alan Heathcock
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's review
Dec 09, 2011

it was amazing
Read from January 10 to 16, 2012

I typically don't like short story collections. Too much opportunity for authors to leave things open-ended and vague, with no real plot-line, and call it art. I once read a British critic who stated that you see a lot of that type of thing coming out of the University of Iowa writing workshop - she was referring to full-length novels, but I feel that way about many short stories as well. Also, short stories often leave me with a feeling that I just don't get it, and that if I were a little bit smarter, I'd appreciate the vagaries, unfinished and unstated sentiments, and 'day-in-the-life' aspects of the piece at hand. No reader likes to feel like an idiot, right? But I don't feel that way reading this collection. It's true, I don't feel that every story in this collection is amazing. But overall, it was solid, haunting, gripping - and I can't stop thinking about it. There are some overarching themes throughout the stories, and some stories have more of a connection to each other than others. And most of them have stunning events that unfold, something I never expected. The writing style is smart, and each sentence contains so much, so if you try to rush to an ending, like I do, you'll miss important details. Mr. Heathcock, in my opinion, has gotten the art of the short story down.

As I said, not every story in this collection is amazing. There are some weak ones. But I give it five stars because most of the stories pack a punch, and it is just so damn well-written. Also, if you read it - the Sheriff. The best character in the book. I wish the author would write a full-length novel about her. Though given how these stories overlap, it's as if he's written that novel, the first in a series. Here's to hoping.
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