The Secret Goldfish (Hardcover)

By David Means

Harper, 9780007164899, 224pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2004



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.

Praise For The Secret Goldfish

“A darkly comic cache of stories . . . impressively inventive.”

“Vivid…Means’s last collection was a finalist for the National Book Award…the stories here are just as unsentimental and tightly wound.”
-New York Times Book Review

“With stunning simplicity, Means offers 15 stirring portraits of tragedy, loss, and love.”

Achingly intelligent....[David Means] stands among our most gifted younger writers.”
-New York Times

“David Means knows his way around the English language. [The Secret Goldfish] aims toward a mythology of the modern heartland…so lovely I want to quote the whole thing.”
-Los Angeles Times

“We care for the characters as if we have known and loved and detested them forever…An exceptional book.”
-Michael Faber on Assorted Fire Events

-The New Yorker on Assorted Fire Events

“Lean, agile…There’s not a cheap emotion or a predictable conclusion to be found...humane [and] unaccountably lovely.”
-New York Times Book Review on Assorted Fire Events

“A splendid short story collection...from one of the most original writers of short fiction working today
-Esquire on Assorted Fire Events

“An imaginative and penetrating collection.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Means is a courageous writer, intelligent and funny and humane...the pleasure in reading THE SECRET GOLDFISH is tremendous.”
-Donald Antrim

“ is Means’ signature talent to view the lives of his characters, and life itself, from somewhere just beyond...”
-Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex