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Volt by Alan Heathcock


“The stories in Volt are intense, suspenseful, and utterly compelling. Heathcock writes about violence and bad luck and bad choices with a cool, grim eye that recalls Cormac McCarthy, yet he also approaches the hard lives of his stoic Westerners with great empathy and compassion and heart—a kind of miraculous combination. By turns hair-raising and tender, the tales in this collection draw you into a tough, bleak, beautiful world that you won’t soon forget.”
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

“Alan Heathcock is an epic storyteller—and Volt is an epic collection. You will come away from each of these majestic stories thrilled, alternately terrified and heartened, ultimately full of wonder at how the author manages to make twenty pages so timeless, so deep and sweeping—every story like a novel writ small.”
—Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding and Refresh, Refresh

“Volt is booming, cracking good. Heathcock’s characters are trying to make things right, whether they’re busting up a town, avenging the grief of a mother, or trying to live with the self-imposed judgment of loyalty or remorse. Guilt and grace are the pillars of this excellent collection, and there are no stronger or more mysterious pillars than those.”
—Joy Williams, author of Honored Guest and The Quick and the Dead

“This is a big, ravishing, commanding story collection. Heathcock presents a riveting portrait of an imaginary town called Krafton: through its streets and farms and minds spin questions about civilization and wilderness, lawkeeping and lawlessness, faith and faithlessness. Each story in its way shows how we reverberate after tragedy, and how we try—and sometimes fail—to vibrate our way back toward equilibrium. Volt is (dare I say it?) electrifying.”
—Anthony Doerr, author of Memory Wall and The Shell Collector

“In the tradition of Breece D’J Pancake and Kent Meyers, Alan Heathcock turns his small town into a big canvas. Like the tales in Winesburg, Ohio, the stories in Volt are full of violence and regret, and the sad desperation of the grotesque.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of Songs for the Missing

“Alan Heathcock’s voice is the American voice, doing what it was meant to do. It’s full of distance and wind, highways and heart. He’s the real deal.”
—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North

“The stories in Volt are rich in surprise moments of brightness and bleakness, told in strong straight sentences. Alan Heathcock has a cowpoke’s eye for the bloom and detritus of the landscape, and language that puts one right there in the picture, banging through the greasewood, the cornfield, crossing the flats and sudden gullies. These are tough and potent stories, deeply felt and imagined. Heathcock is a writer who goes without flinching into the darker corners of human experience, but has the grace to bring any available light with him.”
—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone and Tomato Red

“Alan Heathcock’s Volt is simply masterful. Its weave of stories is heart-filling and breath-stopping and his language achingly spare and yet, mysteriously generous, kind and luxurious. Take your time when you read it and then read it again.”
—Robert Olmstead, author of Far Bright Star

“Alan Heathcock doesn’t so much write stories as fire them like bullets-they speed into the reader’s consciousness and zip toward an impact that feels both stunning and irreversible. These are stories that arrive fast, hit hard, and linger.”
—Keith Lee Morris, author of The Dart League King


If you like William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor or William Gay you will like this!

These snippets of stories feel like ballads of loss, love, redemption and reconciliation, they ooze originality and great craftsmanship. He takes you to dream like sense of feelings at times in these stories of magical realism. Literature with dark themes, wonderful characters, eras, setting and sense of feelings.
Splendid prose visceral and poignant.
All the stories are unique in different ways it’s hard to choose my most liked.
The Daughter the longest story here is tragic and poignant tale on loss and sanity.
The Staying Freight a story that will stay with the reader for as long as you know regret and loved ones.
Smoke an even more powerful than the stories mention previous, because it stirs emotions of what could have been, of mistake we may have made and how well do we know our kin.
Each story carries a thought provoking sense of feeling and meaning. He rustles up emotions in this darkness and ask yourself bigger questions on the trappings of life and consequences of actions on those we love and leave behind.
Stories written during dark times, wars and financial decline.
A writer who’s touched the shocking brutal reality of man on this earth.

These are a few of the stories that I have reviewed.

A story of regret. One man doesn’t now another from Adam. A argument ends in deadly consequences. He’s wronged a man a still wants to do good by them but it must be too late?
The story touches on kin and how well do we know our loved ones. The son in this story finds he knows Roy Rogers more than the face of his father. It reminds you of time and things that should really count, how it passes fleeting and many other bigger issues.

“Ain’t a woman in the world more beautiful than your mother. I was thinking about how much I loved her, and how that ain’t changed, and that got me thinking about my heart and how when it rains your skin and hair gets wet and cold, but your heart don’t know if it’s raining, or hot, or windy. It just keeps on beating.”

Staying Freight
A working man out in the field with his Combine providing a living for his family.
One day out in the fields his life turns upside down a tragic accidental death sends him into a state of distraught and unacceptable consequences.
Just like in the movie Forest Gump, where Forest running across the land, he takes off into the wildness to escape these horrors of reality put before him. Possibly he needs to find himself again and realise and accept what has taken place. He’s virtually suicidal at times.
What will become of him?
Shall he return to the darkness left behind with light and hope?
Well this is really a powerful moving story I had to read this a couple of times as there a things that possibly I missed the first time round.
Loss, reconciliation and finding the light again.

The Daughter
A really well done story. The longest of the collection about daughters and things that happen to the mind and the actions they do due to their psychological decline. One daughter the main character from this story Miriam is struggling to come to terms with her mothers death caused by a horrible accident. It’s has caused her to fear stepping foot into her mothers home where she lives. The sight of her mothers truck with the blood stain on the grill hurts her eyes and heart. She does also have a daughter in this story who’s there to help her and care for her. Miriam lives in a closed knitted community and they all know of her mothers death and her decline in health. The local pastor and church goers wish her back to health happy again, hopefully singing songs of praise in church.
Miriam is in grief and that has taken her to a level of closure and instilled fears.
To escape all the darkness she has made a maze in the corn field. That area of peace also becomes disturbed by intruders unwelcome, out to scare and tease. She spent joyful moments out there with her daughter in the corn, out of the house.
A local boy goes missing and the police arrive to enquire and the search starts.
As she is just about to find courage and some clarity more problems arise.

This story is possibly about loss, love, kin and the mind.
Poignant and brutal at times another memorable story from the author.

A man divorced wishes to have his wife and family back again back in his home.
The truth is he can’t really things have changed time has taken its course they have lost their son in a war. He in this story visits his ex-wife equipped with a box of sealed letters from their son. He feels it’s times to open the unread and unopened to read from a slice of their sons heart. An action that has been to painful in the past. Once the act is completed they for once are a bit more at ease and understand that things have happened and time moved, on he must let go. He’s a pastor now and has new life and responsibilities.

“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.”
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Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 04 May 2012

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