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Two Nurses, Smoking: Book summary and reviews of Two Nurses, Smoking by David Means

Two Nurses, Smoking

Stories

by David Means

Two Nurses, Smoking by David Means X
Two Nurses, Smoking by David Means
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  • Published Sep 2022
    224 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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Book Summary

A new collection of stories by David Means, a visionary "master of the form" (The Observer).

Two nurses meet in the hospital parking lot to share a cigarette. They flirt and imagine a future together. They tell stories of patients lost and patients saved, of the darkest corners of human suffering and the luminous moments that break through, even here, in the shadow of death.

In David Means's virtuosic new collection, time unfolds in unexpected ways: a single, quiet moment swells with the echoes of a widower's complicated marriage; a dachshund, given a new name and a new life by a new owner, catches the scent of the troubled man who previously abandoned her; young lovers become old; estranged couples return to their vows; and those who have died live on in perpetuity in the memories of those whom they touched.

The stories in this collection―winners of the O. Henry Prize and the Pushcart Prize, and selected for The Best American Short Stories in 2021―confirm the promise of a writer who extends "the profound empathy of his attention to those who need it most" (Justin Taylor, The New York Times Book Review). A revelatory meditation on trauma and catharsis, isolation and communion, Two Nurses, Smoking reflects the dislocations and anguish of our age, as well as the humanity and humor that buoy us.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Means explores the parameters of existence in his dazzling latest...The lovely closer, 'The Depletion Prompts,' takes the form of a series of recursive writing prompts, an eminently teachable Barthian meditation that spells out Means's interest in 'the failure of language to reclaim pain,' as described in a prompt to write about the 'strange dynamic between the past and the present.' Readers will revel in this robust collection." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"There's nothing quite like a David Means story. Jangly, elliptical, apparently autobiographical in some sense (but maybe not), his work functions like a series of Russian nesting dolls, one layer leading inexorably to the next...These brilliant stories exist in the space between desire and complication." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This information about Two Nurses, Smoking was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

David Means Author Biography

Phtot: Beowulf Sheehan

David Means is the author of several story collections, including Assorted Fire Events, The Spot, The Secret Goldfish, and Instructions for a Funeral. His novel, Hystopia, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

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