Jason Brooks Brown

Driving the Heart and Other Stories

In the title story of Jason Brown's debut collection, an emergency driver who is delivering ice-packed organs for transplant tries to explain to his trainee that they are too late, that they have ''driven all this way with a heart for which, in the end, there is no life.'' Bleak yet penetrating, each of Brown's elegant stories echoes with the same quiet despair. His characters flunk out of detox and steal knickknacks from neighbors' homes; they limp through moldering marriages and dead-end jobs. Eccentric but not absurd, they are often comically self-aware of the ways in which tragedy and illness -- depression, alcoholism, incest, experiences in Vietnam -- have warped their lives. But for all the bleary fatalism, Brown's stories are also linked by a generosity of spirit. Whether it's the shiftless son caring for his dying mother (''Animal Stories'') or a jaded coroner chiding his partner for comforting a grieving widow (''The Coroner's Report''), Brown's characters act as custodians for one another -- and in doing so attempt to save themselves. Set for the most part in and around Portland, Me., these salt-stung stories are poignant reminders of the ways in which we cobble together the truth about our lives. The stories may at time bleed together in tone, but Brown is a pure and accomplished talent. However much his characters appear to suffer from stasis, his stories themselves travel a great distance. ♦ The New York Times

Selected Works

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Short Stories
Story Collections
A stunningly elegant and highly original debut collection of stories at once dark and poignant, funny and bleak. Brown plumbs the hearts and minds of characters trying to make sense of their lives.
Jason Brown’s linked collection of beautifully haunted, violent, and wry stories set in the densely forested lands of northern New England.

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