REVIEWS

999

WHITING AWARD CITATION

“The selection committee was “fairly dazzled” by Mr. Heathcock’s story collection. The plots have a demonic ferocity that frequently erupts into violence of the morally consequential rather than gratuitous sort, but the stories also are full of visionary mystery, or perhaps of mysterious visions, or of both, so that what is remembered are the images–of a strange white-haired figure wandering through fields, of women dressed like demons picnicking in a maze plowed through a field of corn, of teenagers wreaking nocturnal mayhem on a quiet town by sending bowling balls careening through the streets. The characters, too, are indelible. One feels throughout the welcome influence of Mr. Heathcock’s progenitors–Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, Faulkner– but the work feels mature and wholly his own.” 

333

NEW YORK TIMES

“…Frankly, there is little to fault in any of the eight stories that make up this collection. Undoubtedly, there is much grit and violence in this world, but there is also an abundance of tenderness and compassion. Heathcock displays a generosity of spirit that only those writers who love their characters can summon, and “Volt” is galvanizing proof of his talent.”

VOLT reviewed in the New York Times Book Review

8

GQ

“Alan Heathcock’s VOLT carves characters from the grains of the earth.  Alan is our next Cormac McCarthy.”

VOLT reviewed in GQ

4

OXFORD AMERICAN

“In Volt, the characters in these stories collide with forces that are beyond their control. These stories remind us that we are defined by how we respond to hard situations in life, not easy ones. Our favorite line: “God gets around to all of us. Every last one of us. Who the hell knows what to do about it.””

VOLT reviewed in Oxford American

9

NPR

“…There’s nothing easy about trying to distill tragedy and pain into the space of one short story. In Volt, Heathcock does it eight times, with a remarkable sense of compassion, and a deeply felt understanding of the mechanics of mourning…”

VOLT reviewed on NPR

5

LIBRARY JOURNAL

“This debut collection is a high-voltage reading experience one won’t soon forget…  Heathcock is a writer to watch; each of these subtle stories will thrill readers with an element of surprise that will make them want to go back and see how it happened and what they missed along the way.”

VOLT reviewed in Library Journal

8

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Heathcock’s impressive debut collection pursues modern American prairie characters through some serious Old Testament muck…  Misery is in plentiful supply throughout these dark, thickly atmospheric tales of spiritual desolation and savagery.  Fans of William Gay and Daniel Woodrell will savor these stories where sin and suffering shroud the hope of redemption.”

VOLT reviewed in Publishers Weekly

9

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“…several of these stories celebrating such country matters stand as tall as most of the best stories by many of our most accomplished writers.”

VOLT reviewed in the Chicago Tribune

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THE MILLIONS

“…These are truly singular, fully American stories; about violence, yes, but more so in the end about faith, forgiveness, and community…  Written whole by a gifted writer.”

VOLT reviewed in The Millions

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BARNESANDNOBLE.COM

“If the Coen Brothers filmed Flannery O’Connor’s stories using the ghost of Grant Wood as set and costume designer, the resulting film might resemble the tales in this career-launching collection from Alan Heathcock, a writer distinguished by his poetic treatment of the quotidian violence that underpins too much of American life…”

VOLT reviewed on barnesandnoble.com

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LITERARY CHICAGO

“…Heathcock wastes no time mincing words or meanings; his style is beautifully unfettered, quintessentially American. VOLT is a collection woven of nature’s elements, human nuance, and heartrending honesty. VOLT sets a new standard to which all other fiction collections must now measure themselves…” 

VOLT reviewed in Literary Chicago

8

THE MOOKSE AND THE GRIPES   

“…The sensitivity to spiritual pain and healing reminded me plenty of Flannery O’Connor.  The language took me to Faulkner and McCarthy.  That the stories all take place in one fictional town, Krafton, reminded me of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.  That it is a debut collection I think should find its way into the American canon…”

VOLT reviewed in The Mookse and the Gripes

8

PROPELLER MAGAZINE

“There is nothing flimsy about this work—it is gleaming, craft-wise, but it also has that invisible something.Volt is effectual in that special way I believe all serious readers of fiction yearn for with each unopened book, each un-cracked spine—to be swept away and changed, to be disturbed for days, even weeks after, to be astounded and confronted with beauty and moral question.”

VOLT reviewed in Propeller Magazine

999

THE KENYON REVIEW

“…We are living in a world where writers, in the midst of the storm (dwindling readers, the looming paperless world), must climb the mast and scream: Is this all you’ve got, storm?  …Heathcock’s Volt assure readers there are still storm-screamers out there, demanding to be heard above the squall.”

VOLT reviewed in The Kenyon Review

9

THE LITERARY REVIEW

“…this is a beautiful book, not only for the understated clarity of its language but also for the essential humanity with which Heathcock endows his characters…”

VOLT reviewed in The Literary Review

9

AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW

“VOLT is a near perfect collection of stories.”

VOLT reviewed in American Book Review

4

SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE 

“…Would it be fair for me to say that VOLT heralds the arrival of a new major American voice?  Yes, I would say so.  Heathcock’s gifts are undeniable…”

VOLT reviewed in Spinetingler Magazine

9

WRITERS HUB

“This is a truly stunning collection, one of those that comes along only once in a while.”

VOLT reviewed in Writers Hub

9

CAPE ANN BEACON

“…VOLT is intriguing, too, for the quality of its craft. Who is this talented writer, with his gift for storytelling? Who is the man wearing a fedora in his photograph who pulls from us the surprise of compassion for those who sin and suffer? Who makes these standout spare and gorgeous sentences?…” 

VOLT reviewed in the Cape Ann Beacon

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SMALL DOGGIES MAGAZINE

“…a rustic writing style, reminding me of Mark Twain and Jon Steinbeck…”

VOLT reviewed in Small Doggies

9

BARN OWL REVIEW

VOLT is an incredible work of American fiction, and it’s distinctly American…in Heathcock’s unstoppable, measured, hard-fought voice…”

VOLT reviewed in the Barn Owl Review

8

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

“A good story has the power to divert us from our struggles as well as to help us understand them. This is one reason people turn to fiction, and it explains why Alan Heathcock’s debut short-story collection, Volt, is an ideal book for our times…”

VOLT reviewed in High Country News

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DAILY KOS

“These novels and stories are set throughout the country in the forgotten spots that don’t even figure in fly-over rhetoric. Lives are hardscrabble. Not every person is decent. But all of them deserve attention as much as Willie Loman. And sometimes, just sometimes, the sun shines for a few moments into someone’s life and they find the strength to carry on.”

VOLT reviewed in Daily Kos

9

JEN AND THE PEN

“…Alan Heathcock’s stunning short story collection, VOLT, remind[s] me again of why I think stories can save the world…”

VOLT reviewed on Jen and the Pen

4

BOOK SEXY REVIEWS

“Alan Heathcock has built a world with complexities and contradictions enough to occupy him for years to come.  And that, dear readers, is very good news for the rest of us.”

VOLT reviewed in Book Sexy Reviews

4

TOTTENVILLE REVIEW

“There is much poetry in these eight stories, and an incredible amount of ambition. Heathcock sets a high bar for what good fiction should be…” 

VOLT reviewed in the Tottenville Review

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CONTRARY MAGAZINE

“Eight stories are linked by place and provocation, and something else, too: the prose. Minimalism sets the tone for violent acts, while lyricism implies softness in the underlying human vulnerability responsible for creating them. The unrelenting revelation of character dispels all risk of melodrama.”

VOLT reviewed in Contrary Magazine

4

EDMONTON JOURNAL 

“…Volt is an extremely strong collection, by any metric. Most of these stories were previously published in literary journals, and their careful, finely chiselled sensibility shines through on every page…”

VOLT reviewed in the Edmonton Journal

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THE SHORT REVIEW

“It’s impossible not to reach into the pun drawer when reviewing Volt, Alan Heathcock’s new collection of short fiction from Graywolf Press. I found myself unable to resist writing that his prose positively crackles with energy, or that a current of literary brilliance flows through the stories, or that there is a power here, an electricity, which almost bursts off the page…”

VOLT reviewed in The Short Review

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BOOKS, PERSONALLY

VOLT is a superbly written collection of tense, suspenseful and very moving stories that lay bare violence, grief, compassion, and despair in the rural, fictional town of Krafton. Heathcock’s writing is spare and precise, cutting quickly and exactly to expose the deepest emotions lying beneath the surface…”

VOLT reviewed in Books, Personally

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CONFLUENCE JOURNAL

“Heathcock’s deftness in managing such complicated themes with understatement and his ability to rescue lives that we might dismiss is reminiscent…to the early novels of Cormac McCarthy and to Andre Dubus (both II and III).”

VOLT reviewed in Confluence Journal

9

KGB BAR LIT MAGAZINE

“…sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph, their stories are told beautifully, with many striking turns of phrase. Heathcock is a powerful writer, and infuses each of the eight stories with the sense that catastrophe is inevitable, and personal…”

VOLT reviewed in KGB Bar Lit Magazine

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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

“Alan Heathcock never pinpoints a location for Krafton, the rural setting for his accomplished debut, VOLT. Still, it is easy to imagine these eight linked stories unfolding in a township tucked along Ohio 60 next to Killbuck or Monroe…”

VOLT reviewed in Cleveland Plain Dealer

.

SACRAMENTO BOOK REVIEW

“…through their tragedy and mischief, Heathcock’s characters achieve a transcendent metamorphosis, told in exquisite rhapsody in a collection deserving a thorough rereading.”

VOLT reviewed in Sacramento Book Review

9

WASHINGTON CITY PAPER

“…Heathcock’s great talent is for finding the glimmers of humanity that rest in his characters at their worst…”

VOLT reviewed in Washington City Paper

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NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS

“…the purest compliment a reviewer can offer an author is ordering additional copies of a book. This reviewer is purchasing four copies of Volt.” 

VOLT reviewed in New York Journal of Books

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CORDUROY BOOKS

“AlanHeathcock’s Volt, which has to be one of the best debut collections in the last five years…”
 

VOLT reviewed on Corduroy Books


SHELF AWARENESS

“…Readers who admire the kind of vivid, distinctive short fiction displayed in Richard Ford’s Rock Springsor David Means’s Assorted Fire Events will be excited to discover a familiar but wholly original new voice in Alan Heathcock.”

VOLT reviewed on Shelf Awareness


FICTION WRITERS REVIEW

“…In a manner that is equal parts Picasso and Tarantino, Heathcock uses the fragmented nature of the collection to fracture the reader’s lens. He lashes his Kraftonians together into a kind of multi-limbed, multi-brained protagonist. We walk a mile in the shoes of victims, of perpetrators, and of bystanders.  As with Dubliners or Jesus’ Son, to read these pieces in isolation wouldn’t do them justice. To read Volt is to read a master of not only the short story, but of the collection.”

VOLT in Fiction Writers Review


BOOKSLUT

“Alan Heathcock’s bejewelled collection of short stories, Volt, has just been released by Graywolf. I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a book of stories in a while, and I want to — in a way — proclaim that enthusiasm, as much as possible…”

VOLT reviewed on Bookslut

8

THE STORY IS THE CURE

“Read this collection–easily the best debut collection of the year so far–and I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.”

VOLT reviewed on The Story is the Cure

8

RELIGIOUS HERALD

“The first page will cut you short; and, I’m betting, will rouse you to tears.”

VOLT reviewed in the Religious Herald

j

NEW WEST

“…Novelist Dan Chaon and Booklist compared Heathcock’s work to Cormac McCarthy’s, but Heathcock’s stories put me more in mind of the great Flannery O’Connor, sharing her fascination with human oddity and moral failings, her unsentimental examination of small town America, and her gift for mingling violence with black humor…”

VOLT reviewed in New West


THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

“Volt,” [Heathcock’s] extraordinary first book, is mired with murder and mayhem but laced with hints of humanity and hope…  With precise, often gritty, language Heathcock delivers many dark surprises in these stories, all brilliantly told, in situations and settings that grab at the edges of our comfort yet make us nervously wish for more.”

VOLT reviewed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune


THE BOSTON GLOBE

“…One after another, in their penetrating intensity, these fictions shoot an electric shock — of repulsion, of recognition — right through us, as promised by the title. We can’t read them without a shiver…” 

8

THE QUIVERING PEN

“…Heathcock worked ten years on these stories and the hard, lonely hours of the solitary writer at his keyboard have paid off as readers now hold one of the year’s best short story collections in their hands. Volt makes us think, makes us feel, and makes us believe in the power of short fiction once again…”

VOLT reviewed on The Quivering Pen


KANSAS CITY STAR

“Before dedicating himself to writing, Alan Heathcock considered a life working as a police officer or a minister. One profession doles out justice, the other forgiveness. With “Volt,” his first book, he has found a way to deliver both.  “Volt” is a collection of eight short stories that Heathcock has spent the last decade crafting. Each piece takes place in the fictional town of Krafton, set somewhere in rural America.  It would be easy to call these stories dark because of the heavy themes of death and despair, but there’s far more going on than bleakness. What’s at stake is the notion that we can deal with grief and sorrow and yet maintain a life of purpose and hope…”

VOLT reviewed in the Kansas City Star

BOOKLIST

“…what really distinguishes the collection is the lyricism of the prose. Heathcock displays a real talent for describing a character in a telling phrase and shows a deep appreciation of the petty and serious violence of daily life. Recommend Volt to fans of Cormac McCarthy, Larry Brown, and Tom Franklin.”

8

NORTHWEST BOOK LOVERS

“I read the first story on a dreary Saturday afternoon and felt it wrapping itself around me. The story’s shape kept evolving until the ending left me breathless and wanting to hold on to that moment. This collection of short stories is darkly beautiful and works together like an exquisite gallery show where each piece connects to the ones surrounding it creating a remarkable new whole.”

VOLT in Northwest Book Lovers


KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Raw and rugged, the stories in Heathcock’s collection push up against the sharp edge of a world where people live and die, and find any redemption hard-won and sometimes bittersweet…   Heathcock has earned a National Magazine Award for his fiction. This book affirms that promise.”

VOLT in Kirkus Reviews


TNBBC’S THE NEXT BIG BOOK BLOG

“…Reading Volt is almost like flipping through the family album, or reading a decades worth of back to back newspaper clippings from a single town. Each story cuts deeper and deeper into the wounds of Krafton and it’s residents. Each chapter pulls the skin back a little farther, exposing more of its core. Heathcock is a master...”

VOLT in TNBBC’s The Next Big Book Blog


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