Imagine riding down an empty road filled with enough sharp turns and switchbacks to make predicting the path ahead impossible. Imagine night has fallen, clouds of fog swirl across your windshield, and you’re driving at maximum speed. Imagine the road suddenly stops. . . .Now imagine reading Brett Ellen Block’s debut collection of short stories. Her fiction is taut and moody, fast-paced yet self-reflective. Her characters are unusual or unusually motivated, yet ordinary enough to be thoroughly familiar. Her situations are breathless, set at either a moment of awakening or at a time just before disaster strikes. And her stories end shockingly soon, a split second before the car smashes into the detour sign. Block, the winner of the 2001 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, delivers twelve stories connected through images of cars and through what is left unsaid. From Margaret, a harmless, middle-aged woman who witnesses a hit-and-run and then inexplicably chases down the perpetrator, to Adrienne, who steals her boyfriend’s car only to run out of gas in the middle of the desert, Block does not bring packages with neatly wrapped endings. Rather, her characters seem driven—placed at meaningful points in their lives even if they do not yet realize the potential impact of these moments. There is Franklin, a retired box-maker, who must discourage his landlord’s son from entering the porno business, Christine, who discovers her runaway niece while driving an ice cream truck, and James, who decides to save the life of a homeless man while stuck at a bus stop in Newark. This collection of characters represents different segments of our fractured culture. They could be people we have known—members of our family even—whose actions we cannot comprehend, or people we pass on the street each day but do not take the time to notice. Block forces us to notice, to imagine what it is like to live with an uncertain future. She forces us to pay attention, even as we grip the steering wheel with white-knuckled anticipation as we careen down the dark paths of her creation. Brett Ellen Block is a New Jersey native whose stories have appeared in The Sonora Review, The Mid-American Review, The Red Cedar Review, and various anthologies. Past winner of the Hopwood Prize and the Haugh Prize, she lives in Los Angeles where she is at work on her first novel.
|Publisher:||University of Pittsburgh Press|
|Series:||Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Brett Ellen Block is a New Jersey native whose stories have appeared in The Sonora Review, The Mid-American Review,The Red Cedar Review, and various anthologies. Past winner of the Hopwood Prize and the Haugh Prize, she lives in Los Angeles, California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The first book I read by Block was "The Grave of God's Daughter". That book was dark and, honestly, dragged a bit. I was hesitant to read "Destination Known" out of fear of the same. What I got was something different. At points, a couple of the stories did drag, but unlike "God's Daughter" the characters in Block's story collection were DARK. Some of them were on the verge of being too depressing, but it was these characters and their flaws that kept me reading this book. The stories are artfully told (the woman has a way with words that few other writers I have encountered possess) and they, the characters, are so clearly and thoughtfully presented. I would recommend this book only to those who really LOVE Block's writing...the average reader would become too bored and depressed to fully enjoy.