by Alan Heathcock
4.5 18

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Volt 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Spearsis More than 1 year ago
This book has been so well reviewed that I'm a little intimidated to add my two cents. I lack eloquence in this area. I will say that reading the opening story "Staying Freight," made me want to just sit and be grateful for family in the same the way that watching a good friend or family member fight and struggle against some terrible circumstance that leaves us all helpless makes me need to sit back and be grateful. These stories reflect back to the reader what it means to be human especially when we have allowed ourselves to get caught up in all the things in this world that would encourage us to forget that. In addition, the writing is beautiful throughout and language makes me ridiculously green with envy. I haven't finished the collection -- in a strange way I am hoarding it, reading it a story at a time only when I have a enough time to properly fall into the book, I am simultaneously dying to find enough time to finish it and lamenting the fact that at some point it will be over.
AKTurner More than 1 year ago
This book is not for the faint of heart. If you want sappy happy sugary fluffy bunnies, do not buy this book. But if you like your fiction raw and meaty and gritty, and more crafted than merely written, real Volt. It's humanity laid bare, in all the glory and despair of real life.
Jhands More than 1 year ago
The author's debut collection of stories displays his courage, integrity, imagination, and empathy for the lowliest characters humanity has to offer. Each story is set in the small town of Krafton. Beyond this, each story takes place under extreme circumstances and displays the authors amazing creativity. The title story stars a drifter father who lost his son in a farming accident. The father's body turns hard as rock and he ends up a side show spectacle in a small town bar where locals pay money to try and knock him out. Another story features a son who helps his father cremate a man the father accidently killed. Other stories have Krafton flooded and the town's sherrif's has to attempt to keep the small town civil; and another with a gang of misplaced teens who destroy a small town with bowling balls. While reading it's easy to imagine each of the eight stories translated into a movie. That's how each of Heathcock's scenes feel, very cinematic. At times I was awed with the believability of outrageous events, such as the town's sherrif thoroughly defeated, sharing a beer and a cigarette with a murderer she intends to let escape. In Krafton, Heathcock has created a world where terrible things happen. Murders, deaths, revenge, destruction, and disasters all set a very ominous tone. Each of the central characters have committed unforgivable offenses. Sometimes against law and society, sometimes against those they love. However, this is not Heathcock's greatest accomplishment. This lies in his clear understanding of the nature of life. Heathcock builds suspenseful scenes, then ties them together with one sentence, which will break your heart. Heathcock is teeming with empathy. Hope abounds in this abysmal world. Each character is given the opportunity for redemption to make right their awful wrongs. Redemption, which may or may not be seized. An opportunity for redemption, which some characters never even realize they have. This is the true genius of Heathcock's work. The empathy which the reader feels for these characters displays the true mastery and art of Heathcock's talents and the heart the author has for the dredges of society. In the story Lazarus, a couple married thirty years is driven to divorce by the madness created by loosing their son in a war. The reader feels the father, a local priest, has wrongfully taken from his wife the last articles which remains of their son. In an attempt to right his wrong, he returns to his wife, offers her that which he has taken. Which may have worked. However, Heathcock astutely writes: "So much of life they'd shared, so many laughs, so many touches. But there were things people should never share, but he and Martha had those things between them, too." Somethings can never be undone. Like the love you'll have for Volt, and the greater understanding of life you'll gain.
kTyler More than 1 year ago
I was unable to put this collection down. From the first page to the last, every word, sentence is thought out and meaningful. Heathcock writes from a place of empathy, he's so in touch with who his characters are, this in turn comes alive on the page as you are reading. Whether it's the grief of a father or the fearless nature of youth, this collection of short stories sort out the absurdity of war and the fragile nature of peace. At a time when these elements are tenuous, delicate themes, Heathcock gives an enlightened perspective-- his voice a light from beyond the darkness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivating storytelling! I really enjoyed this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PierresFamily More than 1 year ago
These were pretty good stories. Certainly the characters were true to life. I don't condone some of the behavior, which is immoral by most anyone's standards; however, it is very human and realistic. I won't give any spoilers, in case you want to buy this book for yourself, or check it out of a library. At times, these stories reminded me of Flannery O'Connor's writing, and that's about the highest compliment I could give them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is tom also keith
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lays next to him and huggles
nigelpbird More than 1 year ago
What an interesting book Volt is. Alan Heathcock is a teacher of fiction writing at an American university. The attributes I imagine would go to making a good teacher of fiction are put on display in this collection and it is clear that the future of creative writing is safe for another generation. That said, I do have a slightly mixed reaction to Volt. The first three pages should be enough to convince any reader that they’ve made a good decision with their selection. The power of it demonstrates just how to open a story. And it moves on from there in a way that reeled me in without problem. It tells of how Winslow Nettles deals with tragedy in his life in gripping fashion, the man sinking to depths most writers wouldn’t be able to imagine and certainly not execute in such a skilled fashion. ‘The Staying Freight’, then, is an amazing opening. And it gets better. ‘Smoke’ has a father and son bonding in a way that most family will hopefully never get to experience. ‘Peacekeeper’ is better still, with a time-jumping piece that shifts back and forth to reveal the story of a missing girl. ‘Furlough’ is the icing on the cake for me. It’s my favourite here and is about a modern-day war veteran trying to find his feet. Here’s a little of Furlough. Jorgen is telling the girl he’s escorting about his pet: “I got a bird,” he said. “A bird?” “A little parakeet.” “What’s she called?” Jorgen felt uneasy. “Don’t know,” he said.”Never called it nothing.” Mary Ellen smacked his shoulder. Laughed like he’d told a joke. He watched her mouth, the white of her teeth, the gap in the front. “Tried to set it free today, but it wouldn’t go.” “Bet you treat it well.” “It don’t say one way or the other.” “It didn’t fly off,” she said. “That’s how it says. “I guess.” “You might be too nice for my cousin,” Mary Ellen said. “She’d eat you alive.” “I ain’t that nice.” Which is such a fine demonstration of who Jorgen is and adds to the sense of building menace of the story. And there’s some beautiful description to illuminate the darkness of the work which acts as a counterpoint to the blunt overall style. Try this picture of a building fire on for size: ‘In the lane, oil lapped tiny spectral flames like a riot of hummingbirds.’ Beautiful. When put together with the final story, these four make a collection that is just about perfect. In between them, however, are a handful of stories which didn’t do it for me. All the ingredients seemed to be there – the bleak outlook, the potency of individual sentences, the extremely well-written characters and the odd angles at which we get to see them – it’s just that I didn’t connect to them for some reason. They felt a little long. I didn’t quite get the meaning behind them. Felt they ended without the emotional kick of the others. I suspect that my issues with these few entries might put me in the minority of opinion – you’ll just have to read them and find out for yourselves, for read them you must if you are on the lookout for really talented authors. For the stories I loved, there’s no way I can offer any other review summary other than 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author_RichardThomas More than 1 year ago
(This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown.) Small town living is always the same, whether it's in Arkansas, Idaho, or Missouri. Built on the backs of linked story collections like Winesboro, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock, Volt (Graywolf Press) by Alan Heathcock follows the lives of a handful of lost souls, tragedy washing over them like a great flood, people with names like Winslow, and Jorgen, and Vernon. In the fictional town of Krafton, we see what people do when living out in the woods, close to nature. When there's nothing to do, they make their own fun, picking fights over nothing, running through cornfields, tipping over cows. In a small town, everybody knows everybody, and gets in their business, sometimes to help, and sometimes to enable their own survival. Throughout Volt we witness loss and gain, tragedy and survival, families united and divided. It is a gut wrenching collection, but it speaks the truth, calling to your attention the rich details of the landscape around us-every gnarled knob, desolate hill and crippled creek. One of the things that Heathcock does well in this collection is set the stage. You get a strong sense of what it is like to live in Krafton, to struggle there, to survive. In a town like this, you wander the woods. If you don't have a car, you walk across dirt roads, dogs barking, leaping at chain link fences, tied to a post in the ground. Ramshackle huts flank you on either side, held up by grime and sheer will. From "Lazarus": "The streets were plowed and salted, filthy banks of snow climbing the poles of lit signs before strips of bright shops. The high walls of the city airport stretched for blocks, a plane lifting off, its lights fading as it passed into the clouds. A day-glo truck pulled beside Vernon, its music thumping. Stoplight after stoplight, so many cars. A line of cars smoked in a chicken restaurant's drive-through. In what looked like an old department store, a church lay between an insurance agency and a florist." There is a sense of history in a small town, and a sense of place. Also from "Lazarus": "The roads were slick and the one-hour drive from the city took two. At the Krafton exit, daylight flashed off the corrugated walls of the old McCallister mill. Vernon surveyed the sparkling land, playing in his mind the knobs beyond the mill, naming who lived on what road, knowing them by their fields, by their barns and kitchens and drawing rooms, knowing kids from parents, aunts from cousins, naming them each by their pains and praises." It can be a comforting presence, this familiarity around you. Or it can be suffocating. You can settle in and stay close to family and friends, or you can run like hell. Most don't get out, unsure of what awaits them in the nearest big city, unable to picture themselves in any other setting, no matter how hard they may want to flee, or how desperate things have gotten. What would they do, who would they turn to? It's the devil you know, versus the devil you don't. And oftentimes, you can deal with the devil you know. (For the rest of this review please go to The Nervous Breakdown.)
MJ_Paulson More than 1 year ago
Alan Heathcock's debut is a collection of eight short stories set in and around a small fictional town called Krafton. From the first story, The Staying Freight, to the last, Volt, Heathcock is a master at developing multi-layered characters within a handful of pages. One of the stories, Furlough, is barely eleven pages, and yet the character of Jorgen is marvelously complex and conflicted. The result is a haunting story that builds with each step the characters take into the dark night, into the dark fields, and it is one that will stay with me for a long time. Other characters in the longer works are equally complex, such as Sheriff Helen Farraley who appears in Peacekeeper, The Daughter, and Volt. And Krafton, central to all of these stories, a town that could be any small town in the United States, is not merely a backdrop. The town is as much a character as the people who live within it. The stories also raise big questions, questions about faith, about morality. Each story acknowledges that darkness is an inevitable part of life--sometimes hidden just beneath the surface, sometimes out there for the world to see, but the darkness is there, as much a part of humanity as is hope or salvation. Heathcock's style is one of quiet intensity, each word carefully chosen, each sentence precise. It takes skill, a bit of poetry, and a solid, strong voice to deliver a powerful short story. Heathcock delivers eight of them. I can't wait to see what he does next.
KeninBoise More than 1 year ago
Alan Heathcock's VOLT is super-charged from beginning to end. These related short stories, centered around a fictional (should I say mythical?) midwestern, American town called Krafton, dig and pick into death, love, hate, revenge, guilt--all the major emotions and passions...as seen and endured through the lives and actions of the various characters. Reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and Richard Ford and Annie Proulx' brick-fisted Wyoming tales. Redemption is gained one drip of pain and agony at a time. A must read for the short story fan.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
struggling to finish these stories simply because of the money I spent for this book! hard to follow...difficult to find the point save your money!