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The Brain Harvest

Clare Wigfall, author of The Loudest Sound and Nothing (Faber & Faber) and winner of the 2008 BBC National Short Story Award, comments on Prague- based author Ken Nash’s long-awaited short story collection The Brain Harvest (forthcoming from Equus in April, 2012): “The stories in Ken Nash’s brilliant collection The Brain Harvest lay bare the sparks and idiosyncrasies of an exceptional mind.  Each new story is distinct and memorable in its jewel-like compactness, and the characters we meet are unique and endearing.  In subject matter, the stories weave and delve into continuously unexpected territory; from the alien adventures of Emily Dickinson, to the intricacies of bespoke basket-making, time travel, orchestral garden plots, and the great green sea lizards that haunt our parents’ dreams.  Nash’s playful and quick-witted style bears echoes of maverick American greats like George Saunders and Donald Barthelme, and recalls the quirkiness of Miranda July.  Taut, intelligent, eccentric, and wholly engaging, The Brain Harvest is a wonderful debut for a very talented new writer.”

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About Equus Press

EQUUS was established in 2011 with the objective of publishing innovative & translocal writing.

Discussion

One thought on “The Brain Harvest

  1. Ken Nash’s stories are many things: kind, big-hearted, sad, witty, sexy, self-effacing. But rarely bitter. He’s thankfully not another modern writer wallowing in irony. He is a master of the turn of phrase, as in “luring me into this fraudulent infidelity designed to make me question my sanity” from Taking Care of Montreal and “unexpected side benefit of the host-parasite and disease-vector relationship changes brought on by global warming,” found in We Celebrities. The first phrase refers to a situation in which the narrator suspects that his wife, who repeatedly disrupts his extramariital liasons, is in complicity with the women he’s sleeping with, or trying to sleep with…if his wife and the women weren’t playing with his head. The second refers to a side benefit of everyone suddenly becoming famous. “Sudden, the entire planet rose from obscurity, from the left handed base player of a Rhode Island heavy metal trio who bussed tables by day to the Tibetan commode cleaner in a budget hotel ten kilometers southeast of Beijing.”
    And so it goes, as one of Nash’s forebears might have written.

    Story after story, Nash dishes upsurprises, delights. His style is flat, but elegant. Wry. Sentence after sentence feel just right, like a finish carpenter making cabinets. Nash has the ability to put the reader into a story with the first paragraph and keeps hold of you until the end.

    I could go on at great length about the structures and precision of the tales. If you just see The Brain Harvest around somewhere, or better yet in a book shop, begin anywhere. I especially recommend “Event Horizon,” a spooky tale about vacuous male infatuations with drunk young women, and “My Roommate’s Girlfriend,” who doesn’t exist, or does she, and the narrator finally makes her his own girlfriend.

    Alas, there is one flop. Ironically, of course, it’s the last story. Called “Making Babies,” it seems like an afterthought following a couple longer tales, which suggest Nash ought to step up and write a novel.

    Read this book. It’s a jewel made with a lot of love and a deep intelligence.

    Posted by Joe Sherman | June 7, 2012, 4:38 pm

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"Modernity today is not in the hands of the poets, but in the hands of the cops" // Louis Aragon
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