The Spot by David Means

The Spot

The Spot is an old blacksmith shed in which three men tweeze apart the intricacies of a botched bank robbery. The Spot is a park on the Hudson River, where two lovers sense their affair is about to come to an end.The Spot is at the bottom of Niagara Falls, where the body of a young girl floats as if caught in the currents of her own tragic story. The Spot is in the ear of a Manhattan madman plagued by a noisy upstairs neighbor . The Spot is a su...

Details The Spot

TitleThe Spot
Release DateMay 25th, 2010
PublisherFaber & Faber
GenreShort Stories, Fiction, American, Americana

Reviews The Spot

  • Ryan Madman Reads & Rocks
    Unique and haunting. Not a scary kind of haunting. A haunting that keeps one intrigued and wanting to reread every single word. David Means' prose is definitely not for everyone.
  • Elizabeth
    I’m more than three-quarters of the page into reading one of David Means’ short stories when I come to realize that I have been reading one long, complicatedly intricate sentence. Means stories are full of those beautifully expanded sentence that he manages so well. Means is an American writer who has had stories published in many publications. His stories are typically set in the American Midwest, where originally from. His first short story...
  • Timothy
    I enjoyed this book much less than The Secret Goldfish and Assorted Fire Events. The reason would be that the stories felt less human, less warm and more verbose. Instead of getting into the character's heads, it stories seemed to get into the author's words, often brilliant but functioning in a less plot or character driven way.
  • PietjePuk
    Loved the style, tailored to describe the intersection of time and place with insane precision. Would be curious to see if Means writes differently when the goals of the writing change. Also appreciated the fact that the stories deal with marginal figures, who all depend heavily on the stories they tell themselves. The characters feel a little like stock characters, but that actually adds to the stories in this case. The book as a whole explores ...
  • Ahmad Al Tukhaifi
    I was so excited for this book, but after reading a couple of stories I was disappointed. The stories dragged forever and I ended up hate reading it cause I bought it and didn’t want that to be a waste. Hate reading it had a benefit though, I came up on 3 stories that I liked, A River in Egypt, Reading Chekhov and The Botch. Those were good. But the whole book consists of about 14 short stories and only 3 of them that I've enjoyed. So.. not muc...
  • Coryl
    Decent. Nothing mind-blowing.
  • Rick
    Just gotta give props to a short storyabout spontaneous human combustion.
  • Lee Klein
    The Cormac McCarthy of the Midwest and Hudson River? Seriously written serious stories, harsh manly humorless stuff, usually interestingly structured. I'd reckon there're two 5* stories in this collection -- the title story and the one about spontaneous human combustion -- and a 6* paragraph in one story where a father imagines how many seconds his son would pay attention to the sight of a walrus, a boat, a boat on fire, a boat on fire with passe...
  • Brian
    What to say about a book that took me nearly half a year to finish? Means has been compared to Flannery O'Connor, Alice Munro, Bob Dylan (?), Jack Kerouac, Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Denis Johnson, Poe, Chekhov, and Carver. That right there should have told me that this was a writer that couldn't be pinned down. And his stories would probably be bits and pieces of this and that. Well... I found his stories to be just that... bits and pieces of...
  • Beth
    I can’t give this book a fair rating. Not because I didn’t finish it (I did, mostly), but because it just wouldn’t seem right. My gut instinct wants to give it only one star. But that would be knee jerk reaction to the fact that I found the characters to be mostly despicable doing deplorable things – rape, murder, adultery, child abuse, robbery, prostitution. I think Means pretty much covers most of the worst acts humanly possible. Don’...
  • Colin N.
    I picked up “The Spot” after reading the glowing book review in the NY Times. Overall I thought these stories were good, but I did not find them as engaging as I had hoped. The subject matter of the stories is dark and interesting. Drifters, hobos, bank robbers, and pimps abound and Means creates intelligent renderings of what could have come across as pulp. Means also has a distinct and unique writing style, often beginning a story right in ...
  • Paul
    Pretty much fantastic. A couple stories miss the mark a bit, mostly due to having at least a toe still in the classical postmodern realm: a conceptual, episodic, polywhatever look at a man who spontaneously combusts, and a sort of fable about an unnamed actor called "the actor." Otherwise, a great collection, stronger than Means' two previous books, though it's been quite a while since I've read either. Means has been compared to Carver, and inde...
  • Matt
    I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I did _The Secret Goldfish_, another of Means' collections that I pretty enthusiastically found at the PL. It's weird, because this should be right up my alley-- fragmented and occasionally elusive stories, a lot of which center on crimes, and low-grade criminals, all of them told in voicey fragments that are really vivid and well-written. But somehow for me, it didn't totally come together; I hesitate to s...
  • Alison
    I realized pretty early on that I'd read a couple of these stories before in "The New Yorker." Means is a fierce, heady writer, who spins uncomfortable, looming tales of criminals and misfits and the folks on just the other side of your last passing thought. He can set up an ominous, haunted vibe in three paragraphs or less that will take a couple of solidly sunny hours to dispel. I found myself wishing he'd kept entirely to the exploits bank rob...
  • Charles Cohen
    Imagine a glass case. Behind the glass case is humanity, slamming against the case in different configurations. There are violations, both legal and moral. There are lives lost and wasted, and misery and sorrow. For some reason, this side of the case is mostly awful, and you wonder where all of the joy and happiness has gone. That's what it feels like to read these stories. Means' prose holds you at a remove, and allows you to see these character...
  • Brad
    Well, the library recalled this books, so I'm officially finished it, even if I haven't finished it. Which is to say that the first 2/3rds I read haven't really wowed me enough to make me plow through the rest of it before returning today. Means' prose are surprisingly flowery at points; while minimalism has been done to death in American short fiction, Means' reaction, at points, seems to be to engage in over-writing. Still, I'd recommend "A Riv...
  • Christopher Rose
    I'm really kind of shocked at the lack of love for this book in many of the reviews here. The writing itself is beautiful, the stories are by turns heartbreaking and excruciating, there's an outsize amount of surprise and insight in what might in other hands be very formulaic setups. I loved this book, and had a solid urge, on finishing it, to just turn back and start reading from the first page again.
  • Deborah J
    I just couldn't connect with this selection of short stories. I heard such good things about Means, but I found it wearing that the same one note was evident in every story, whether it involved hobos riding the rails, adulterous office workers, an actor's house etc. I might just return to this book - give it the benefit of the doubt - or even try another of this author's works, but this just didn't appeal.
  • Robert
    David Means is one of my favorite short story writers. He can take any story and make it different and unique. In THE SECRET GOLDFISH he displayed a wide range of narrative techniques; in THE SPOT, he seems to have become content with one basic narrative, and while most of the stories are dark and deal with some kind of crime, they are done exceedingly well.
  • Terry Tsurugi
    When I started reading this book, I immediately enjoyed it, savoring the intelligent writing. But after the third or fourth story, I grew tired of the monotonous abstractness and the ironic distance. The writing is virtuosic, but unengaging.
  • David LeGault
    There's a few excellent stories throughout the collection, but I'm getting a feeling of hit and miss. The Secret Goldfish is still his best collection, but there's a few stories here (spontaneous combustion, crucifixion, a few botched robberies) that are worth returning to.
  • Ric
    So frustrating to read. He is undoubtedly talented, and a couple of stories are captivating. Most of them, though, are filled with amoral, reprehensible characters from whom you want to flee. Proceed with caution.
  • kp
    A book of short-stories worth checking out. Means has a noir sensibility, an ironic distance that recalls writers like Hammett, Hemingway, and Malick, and you couldn't ask for clearer, cleaner prose.
  • Dawn
    I love that Means is a Michigan author, but this slim collection of stories was stuffed full of murder and badness, without redemption or sense. It made it tough to finish.
  • Ammon
    Great stories about Okies, Hobos and Bank Heists, distilled like good short stories should be.
  • Lara
    Dark dark dark. Bank robberies and Depression vagrancy, murders and apartment-dwelling insanity. Unsettling and weird.