RandomAnthony's Reviews > Volt

Volt by Alan Heathcock
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Dec 28, 2011

really liked it

Ok, I tried to write a normal Volt review and failed. I’m going with bullet points.

Volt is really fucking good. Sorry. I know doesn’t give you much information. Let us move on.

• I try not to read reviews until I’m finished with a book, but I’m guessing (the unfortunately named) Heathcock (heh) gets compared to Woodrell, Faulkner, etc. Volt invites comparison and Heathcock’s (stop it) influences aren’t hard to track. That’s not a criticism. Volt isn’t a weak imitation of its predecessors. The book comes from the same neighborhood (e.g. poor white people in the middle of nowhere doing awful things) but builds its own house.

• Notice I didn’t call this book a novel. And I’m not sure I can call Volt a short stories collection, either. The structure is similar to Winesburg, Ohio in that the settings and characters intertwine and central themes emerge without a straightforward storyline.

• Heathcock focuses on people who can’t articulate why they do what they do, how they respond to the scenarios, and the dread they feel trying to make sense of both what they’re doing and what’s happening around them. The balance between impulse and reason is weak and comprehension unconscious and underwater. I’m reminded of the last few pages of Woodrell’s Tomato Red. Heathcock creates a strong sense of detail as well; he doesn’t overdo the specifics but, for example, notes the details a cop sees when she walks through a trashy yard on the way to talk with an old friend/fugitive’s mother.

• Rarely has the title of a book, in the work’s content, meant so much to me. When, in the last story, the connection between the title and the stories emerged, I felt an emotional wave pass through me in a way that people who don’t read will never, ever understand.

• I’m not a big book recommender, but I’m pushing this book like crack on a couple of my friends (Donald, Tadpole, I’m looking at you) who I think will like Volt. The only barrier to a five star rating is the transparency of the influences. The rest is top-notch.
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Reading Progress

12/28 page 40
19.0% "Stayed up late and finished the first section last night. Holy hell, great so far." 2 comments
01/13 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Melki I just ordered this book for myself. Happy New Year to Me! (And screw you, Santa!)


RandomAnthony Heck yes! Gift cards, remember, Melks. Gift cards:)

Volt has been excellent, by the way.


message 3: by David (new)

David Heathcock's nice and all, but some people need Moorcock.


(Again. I apologize. This is my second time today.)


Melki Groan...
(Has he been reading my diary?)


RandomAnthony If only Trish were on goodreads, too.


Books Ring Mah Bell you said heathcock.


Chris I'm not as well-read as RA, so the obvious influences didn't bother me. 5 stars!


RandomAnthony Chris, I saw your star rating! Write a review, man! I want to hear what you think. Also, you've got more books listed on GR than me. So there:)


message 9: by Chris (last edited Jan 06, 2012 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chris Here's my review: RandomAnthony is right. Volt is really fucking good.

I'd write more but I have a horrible memory. I do remember that it was a tough call for me between 4 and 5 but I felt that it's one of those books that deserves to be read by more people so I opted for the 5.


RandomAnthony Yes, I agree with you, sir. I wonder if Volt will be one of those slow-burn books that gets popular over time.


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