Instructions for a Funeral: Stories

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Product Details

Picador USA
Publish Date
5.3 X 8.2 X 0.7 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

David Means was born and raised in Michigan. His Assorted Fire Events earned the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction and The Secret Goldfish was short-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize. The Spot was selected as a 2010 Notable Book by The New York Times and won the O. Henry Prize. His first novel, Hystopia, was published in 2016 to wide acclaim and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Means's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous other publications. He lives in Nyack, New York, and teaches at Vassar College.


"[David] Means extends the profound empathy of his attention to those who need it most, even if they deserve it least, which must be why he writes so often about adulterers, criminals and teenagers. Like Flannery O'Connor, Means senses that beneath every act of violence there pulses a vein of grace, a redemptive potential yearning to be tapped . . . Instructions for a Funeral is both sweeping and narrow, panoramic and fragmentary, possessed, as Means writes in [his story] 'The Ice Committee, ' by 'a gloriously full understanding, fractured to shards." --Justin Taylor, The New York Times Book Review

"Mr. Means's pared-back stories attempt to distill memory to its essence so that it recaptures the sensation of immediacy . . . cool, precise [and] expert." --Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

"David Means's latest collection . . . confirms his standing as a master of the form . . . Means has established a voice--rigorous and dense and conversational by turns--that is among the most distinctive and affecting in contemporary American fiction . . . The crafted ironies of these stories often put you in mind of the modern American greats of the form, including Raymond Carver, Richard Ford and Tobias Wolff." --Tim Adams, The Observer

"It's always an event when one of the country's best short-story writers--in this case someone who took a break to write a wild, powerful novel (the Man Booker-nominated Hystopia)--returns to the form. Here, in his fifth story collection, [David] Means eases up on the violence and shock to score more intimate gut-punches, plumbing everything from parental estrangement to looming death." --Boris Kachka, Vulture

"For 30 years, Means has examined the ways in which violence embeds trauma that warps the American character. This superb new collection covers similar geographic, characterological, and thematic ground, yet finds Means at his most compassionate and mischievous . . . Means spins intricate, highly textured yarns with great artistry, care, and an acute, empathetic eye. Treasures abound." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[David] Means' fifth collection cements his reputation as one of the finest, and most idiosyncratic, practitioners of short fiction in contemporary literature . . . In this magnificent book, we find the stories of every one of us: absent and present, dislocated and connected, at the mercy of our history, our narratives." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"With his debut novel, Hystopia, [David] Means proved he is a gifted long-form storyteller. But his followup, his fifth story collection since 1991, affirms his position as one the best story writers of his generation. His sinewy, digressive prose moves seamlessly in and out of dreams, memories, and anticipation, defying time and forming riveting meditations on longing and regret." --Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist (starred review)

"[David] Means's last publication, Hystopia, was a Booker-nominated novel, but he is still best known for his short stories. Instructions for a Funeral is therefore a return to (the short story) form, 14 pieces, previously published in the New Yorker, Harpers, The Paris Review, and VICE, that display the intelligence and questing range for which Means is known. From a fistfight in Sacramento to a 1920s FBI stakeout in the midwest, Instructions for a Funeral invites readers on a literary journey with a master of the modern short story." --The Millions