The Secret Goldfish
By David Means
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780007164899, 224pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2004
List Price: $22.95*
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It is a less and less well-kept secret that David Means is one of our best fiction writers. In the past few years he has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Readers familiar with Means's electrifying work will recognize the vision at play in The Secret Goldfish -- a trio of erotically charged kids go on a crime spree in Michigan; a goldfish bears witness to the demise of a Connecticut marriage; an extremely unlucky man is stalked by lightning -- but this new work is funnier, more generous, and bigger in its reach.
Each story stands on its own, and yet linked together they produce a quintessentially American experience -- not the stars-and-stripes-on-the-bumper-sticker kind, but the stoned-and-bored-and-looking-for-trouble kind. Means's writing is shot through with emotion and beauty. A subversive humor -- and an almost religious fervor -- drives these stories, and Means's miraculously precise observations bring them to life.
Eileen Battersby of the Irish Times wrote, "The roll-call of honor, from Eudora Welty to John Cheever, John Updike, William Maxwell, to Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff, and Annie Proulx is long and rich. Just when it seems that things could get no better, along comes David Means." This is a brilliant lineage, and yet David Means writes like no one but himself.