Exhibit 10.6

Voodoo Heart

I don’t even remember how I found out about Scott Snyder’s debut collection of stories, but I’m glad I picked it up. There are quite a few really great stories here and even at its lowest points it’s always interesting and well-written. Quite a success, all and all.

At the heart of most of the stories here is the central protagonist’s self-doubt which has driven them from their loved ones and stifled their advancement in life until they end up in places they hadn’t heard of until they found themselves there alone and discontent. A good number of the stories feature some kind of encounter with the grotesque (a brain-damaged country singer, a famous actress disfigured in a wreck, etc.) which work as a nice counterpoint to make the protagonist’s ennui-based melancholy seem all the more shallow.

The first story had me worried, bogged down as it was in the brand of desperately cute quirkiness that few contemporary writers are immune from (this one included). Our hero, fresh from his job of lassoing barrels filled with people who intend to go over Niagara Falls, chases after a blimp carrying his former girlfriend who, I should mention, previously worked as a fake wax figure in a wax museum. Yeah, it was a bit much, the kind of overreaching that can be palatable in a single story but deathly mawkish in a full-length collection. Characters with quirky jobs who fall in love with character with quirky jobs…I mean, jesus, I feel like there are at least two stories doing that in every journal I read (sometimes written, poorly, by me). Oh well. I guess I’ve already covered my thoughts on this type of work here, but mostly I wish it were a little bit less per(vasive/suasive).

See what I did there.

Anyway, more to the point, Snyder does it better than most, but he’s even better when he lets something else drive his fiction. The best stories here, including the title story, my favorite, manage to be original without veering into the emotional vacuum of pure oddity. The compelling strangeness of these stories comes from the way they explore the fringes of American geography and history with characters realistically shaped by their backwoods environment. It makes for a cohesive collection of work even though individual stories are separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles.

Comment / Posted in Books, Fiction, Heart

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