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Well
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Matthew McIntosh has been published in Ploughshares, Puerto del Sol and Playboy. He is twenty-six years old.Here are the first (of many) reviews for Well:'McIntosh writes from the punched gut, the broken heart, the striving, splintered soul. [Well] reveals much contemporary American writing for what it truly, sadly, is: whimsical, icy, of emaciated compassion and, ultimately, utterly pointless. Only a writer of rare and precious talent can perform that ugly but necessary task and that is what, God help him, Matthew McIntosh is.' Niall Griffiths'Matthew McIntosh's panoramic, vastly ambitious d but novel is a wild composite of Robert Altman's Short Cuts, Denis Johnson's Jesus's Son, John Updike's Couples and Rick Moody's Garden State. Giving his novel the multi-story quick-cut feel of a TV show like 'ER', McIntosh offers a beautifully elliptical, fragmented portrait of Federal Way, a suburb of Se

Reviews

"I think something inside of her broke, whatever that string is that holds people together, it snapped." "That string" is the leitmotif of this unusual, dark debut novel with an ensemble cast. McIntosh assembles different episodes and voices to create an impressionistic tableau of Federal Way, Washington, a blue-collar town facing the loss of blue-collar jobs and culture. McIntosh's characters are introduced in first-person testimonies and third-person sketches that build matter-of-factly and then trail off ambiguously, like entries in a police blotter-if the police blotter were written by Samuel Beckett. They lead lives of quiet despair, punctuated by bursts of violence, benders and bad sex. Physical pain harries many of the characters, madness others, and almost all are cursed with deteriorating personal relationships. Among the most moving episodes is a long chapter, "Fishboy," narrated by Will, a student at a small college in Nebraska who is studying fisheries. The story flashes back to his dangerous obsession with a classmate, Emily Swanson, and his father leaving his mother. Another beautifully executed sequence, "Border," shows how the suicide of an ex-boxer, Jim, is viewed by his sister-in-law, his brother, his buddies, a former opponent and his mother's friends. The sustained glide from voice to voice is virtuosic, and the writing is dogged-it never gets literary; it digs through the clich?s and the usual inarticulateness of the stories people tell in bars and grocery store lines; and it stumbles on diamonds in the rough everywhere. McIntosh is only 26, but he is already an artful registrar of the heart's lower frequencies. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Aug.) Forecast: If grunge met Beckett, it would come out like this. McIntosh will go over particularly well in the Pacific Northwest, and Dennis Cooper fans will love him, too. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"'The humanity of the people sings off the page... A book that still resonates in my heart.' Hubert Selby Jr; 'The real thing... an astonishingly sharp and satisfying debut.' Washington Post 'A warm portrayal of grey lives, akin to an American James Kelman or a literary Ken Loach.' Arena"

The characters in this impressive debut all need to get a life-and they're grappling to do so with varying degrees of success. Their struggles to establish meaningful, long-term relationships are limited by insecurities, complexes, drug and alcohol abuse, or impulsive acts. These related stories are set in present-day Federal Way, a generally blue-collar suburb located between Seattle and Tacoma. Given the soggy setting, barroom encounters, drifting characters, fragility of relationships, and overall mood, McIntosh will inevitably be compared to his obvious influence, Raymond Carver. The structure of his stories tends to be more complex, though, relating different aspects through multiple narrators or shifting the focus among a variety of characters. Occasionally, the result is utter artifice, as in the disjointed, seven-part "It's Taken So Long To Get Here." The longest and strongest story, "The Border," is more focused, employing overlapping story lines and perspectives with utter brilliance. Forget the frosting, McIntosh, because you sure can bake some fine cakes. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. Lib., Chico Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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