Driving the Heart introduces a new and brilliantly talented voice in American fiction. Brown's thirteen stories centre around the battle against self-destruction, the struggle to transform loss into meaning, the difficulty of connecting with others. They are beautifully crafted and they make you laugh while breaking your heart.
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"It is too late for me. I already have several chins, and if I were to die tomorrow, only about four people would notice and none of them, except my mother, would be women...
Jason Brown's fictional debut Driving The Heart, depicts the dark side of small-town life. This is an America of dysfunctional families, AA meetings and hospital wards, each of the 13 stories filled with quiet despair. Two men drive the organs of the recently deceased to their transplant recipients; a coroner coldly dispenses post mortem and suicide facts and tells relatives of sudden deaths; a group of alcoholics plot to escape the basement detox centre in which they are incarcerated; a schoolboy sneaks into a neighbours house at night to listen to her breathing.
Brown's style is dry and sardonic with monologues worthy of Bukowski: "We sat around the kitchen table drinking slowly, not saying much, sinking into a smaller life" or "I live alone in a one-story house at the end of a long street and it has been the nature of my moodiness after work to walk through the empty bedrooms at night..."
In a refreshing change from the usual settings, Brown sets most of the tales in his east coast homeland of Maine, most in South Portland or the nearby coastal islands. The streets become familiar, filled with the inhabitants overwhelming sadness and disappointment. Human life is fragile--threatened by mental breakdown, car crashes, heroin addiction, cancer and loneliness. The characters develop everyday rituals to get by, which when told in Brown's dispassionate style take on a powerful poignancy--from a brain tumour patient obsessively studying shrews to a schizophrenic suburban mother locked in a room reading ancient history.
Driving The Heart will leave you shell-shocked. Alongside Rick Moody, Jason Brown is one of most exciting new American suburban writers. --Sarah ChampionReview:
"A luminous collection... Brown's characters are losers, loners, also-rans, junkies: men who have dropped out, don't fit or who are desperate for a second chance. Although they invariably speak the language of failure, disappointment and regret - Brown directs us beyond the pessimism to the point where we find comedy as dark as congealed blood and, without fail, an undimmed faith in humanity's capacity for forgiveness, hope and atonement" ( Sunday Times)
"Brown writes carefully structured stories that are simply written and focus upon men who are addicts or losers living in suburban America... Like Carver before him, Brown proves that an intimate map of the heart can be as wide-ranging as an atlas of the world" ( The Times)
"Brown is a pure and accomplished talent" ( New York Times Book Review)
"Consistently excellent first collection of stories" ( Daily Telegraph)
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Book Description Vintage, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099283441