Gary Amdahl Visigoth: Stories

ISBN 13: 9781571310514

Visigoth: Stories

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Visigoth is a portrait of the American male — gritty, violent, and fascinating. The protagonists in this collection of stories come from all walks of life — hockey players, middle managers, political hopefuls, and wayward husbands — but all share a tendency to turn towards violence when life begins spinning out of control. In "The Flyweight," an all-star high-school wrestler struggles with his own success and the expectations of others when he begins hearing voices after a schizophrenic breakdown. "Visigoth," the title story, depicts a college hockey player unable to understand that his relationship with an English professor is over. The novella "The Free Fall" focuses on a cycle of escalating violence in small farming and mining towns and the effect that it has on the main character and his family. Sharp, inquisitive, and witty, Visigoth challenges the reader to question the popular glory of violence in all its manifestations.

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Review:

"Although rich in anger and brutality, the stories collected in Visigoth are told with charm and a ranging, passionate intelligence." -- Ken Kalfus

"Amdahl captures these battles in precise, gorgeous language. . . Consistently fine, with a few flashes of greatness." -- Kirkus

"Amdahl knows sports, men, women. . . so thoroughly as to make them myth. Camus comes to mind: thought with extreme muscle." -- Barry Hannah

"Gary Amdahl takes the miseries and battles universally familiar to men and places them in the arenas familiar to Minnesotans" -- Star Tribune, May 21, 2006

"Gary Amdahl's vivid stories are at once lyrical and unexpectedly in your face. . . A book we'll remember." -- Thomas McGuane

"The men. . . . range from lotharios. . . to hockey jocks. . . But in Amdahl's highly literary, tragicomic vision, they melt our doubting hearts." -- Elle Magazine

"These are smart, fully realized stories – sensitive, layered and deliberate ... there’s something freeing, refreshing, about Amdahl’s voracious, inappropriate Visigoths." -- The Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2006

"as tight as the fist about to punch you out ... a refreshing book, sincere and weighty." -- Book Sense, June 2006

From Booklist:

Amdahl moves like lightning and carries a big stick in this rampaging collection of short stories, and not only when he's portraying reckless hockey players. Amdahl favors dramatic settings and chaotic action in the big chill of Minnesota and Alaska, but his tales run hot as his male characters run amok. Veering from laugh-out-loud funny to scenes of abrupt and irrevocable disaster, Amdahl presents hapless young men acting tough to conceal their dread of adulthood. In the title story, a star college hockey player unable to curb his boiling rage only half-jokingly identifies with the barbarians of old. In "The Volunteer," the well-employed yet disaffected narrator names John Updike and John Cheever the ur-bards of male misery, terrain Amdahl rips up like a tank bashes asphalt in brash and bloody yet astutely crafted stories of angst unlimited. Amdahl's Visigoths harbor fantasies of power and success even as they are forced to recognize that life often brings out the worst in a guy as aggression and wildness override desperate attempts at civility and domestication. Donna Seaman
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