Scott Snyder has been published in Zoetrope, One Story, Tin House, Epoch, and other journals. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York.
Reading Scott Snyder's accomplished first story collection, Voodoo Heart, is a little like watching a magician pull rabbits out of a hat. No matter how many times you've seen the trick performed, you still marvel that someone has figured out not only how to do it but, more important, how to persuade the audience that no one has ever done it exactly that way before. Snyder's particular sleight of hand enables him to make the unlikely seem disturbingly familiar; he bends and stretches the laws of ordinary causality just enough so that, when his narratives snap back, there's a twang that reverberates after the final line. His protagonists are young romantics worried about the conflict between authenticity and adventurousness, torn between a self-protective longing for solitude and a longing for some deeper loyalty to another human being. What they mistake for life-changing passion may turn out to be simple-and terrible-misunderstanding, and a chance encounter may initiate a chain of events that will alter them forever. Many reside just outside odd or intentional communities (a boot camp for troubled teens, a summer haven for overweight kids) in which they take an almost anthropological interest. Others are in transit or in flight, reluctant to confront that what looked like a whimsical job opportunity or a brief vacation from ordinary life may in fact be a permanent dead end. In the title story, a young couple renovates an abandoned Florida mansion that borders on a women's prison-a proximity that intensifies the hero's most secret and desperate concerns about his true nature. In another tale, an equally conflicted young man meets a celebrity convalescing from drastic plastic surgery and becomes involved in a meteoric affair that flames out as her recovery changes his sense of what it means to be injured. In "Dumpster Tuesday," a guy who seems to have everything (or just enough) loses it all when his girlfriend leaves him for a brain-damaged, improbably charismatic country singer, and in "About Face," a trumpet player working at a juvenile detention center learns a painful lesson about illness, compassion and the mysteries of sex. Suffused with sly humor, sympathy and high spirits, the stories in Voodoo Heart are giddy with the thrill of discovering what can be done with words, what you can make happen on the page. The result is as irreducible and rewarding as making playing cards disappear or pulling gold coins out of thin air. Francine Prose's most recent book is Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles. Her new book, Reading like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them will be published in the fall. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Short stories from an author who's starred in Zoetrope, Tin House, and other venues. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Scott Snyder's Voodoo Heart just blew me away. These
dispatches from disaffected but strangely likeable American
oddities have much the same effect as good American roots music:
their simplicity is deceptive, their emotional power considerable.
And at some point between the mystery-blimp of Blue Yodel
and the World War I-era Curtis Jenny of The Star Attraction of
1919, you may discover that Snyder's plain folks have stolen
your heart. I think what impressed me most about these stories-even
the ones in which terrible things happen-was their warmth and
humanity. Even when his characters are at their worst, Scott Snyder
never abandons them. These are stories that welcome the reader in,
and fully reward his interest. Sometimes horrifying, often absurd,
full of characters afraid to commit (and who sometimes commit
anyway), this is a debut worthy of T. Coraghessan Boyle's If The
River Was Whiskey. I couldn't put it down."-Stephen King
"The dialogue is snappy, the characters sharp, and the story lines consuming...Snyder is masterful, and the fact that he draws on uniquely American symbols, stories, and songs makes Voodoo Heart outstanding and unusual, and a spectacular debut."-Booklist, starred review
"Accomplished...Suffused with sly humor, sympathy and high spirits, the stories in Voodoo Heart are giddy with the thrill of discovering what can be done with words, what you can make happen on the page. The result is as irreducible and rewarding as making playing cards disappear or pulling gold coins out of thin air."-Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Sometimes dark, other times sweet, and filled with wonder, these delightful stories might seem transcribed from a further world. Voodoo Heart, like Scott Snyder, is a real find."-Rick Bass
"Each story in Scott Snyder's Voodoo Heart is as mournful and beautiful and haunting as a Hank Williams song, or a Buster Keaton movie, or a dream you have on the edge of sleep: vivid, insistent, funny, strange, heartbreaking all at the same time, full of odd, doomed love, and unforgettable."-Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant's House