Rob McClure Smith
A little horror, a little humor, a little history, and you have The Violence. From the surreal brutalities of the Falklands conflict and the sport of fox tossing to the indignities of rat extermination and seduction by Kenyan boy toys, from the musings of doomed Irish nationalists and fascist girlfriends to dystopian Celtic futures and nightmare family vacations, the intensity of this debut collection is matched only by its stories’ humanity. With wit and disarming levity, Rob McClure Smith leads the reader to an uncanny wisdom regarding the assaults that can be withstood and the dignity that endures.
"In this startling, prismatic collection, Rob McClure Smith sifts the fallout of empire, the personal and collective costs of skewed power, and takes stock of the damage. The Violence reveals characters confronted by direct physical brutality and by the distortions of disconnection, as they bear witness, navigate their longings for intimacy and transcendence, or lose themselves. Smith writes in keenly wrought language, his lucid, strangely beautiful images reminiscent of Hopper’s. These stories pose questions at once arresting, disturbing, and necessary."
—Nancy Reisman, author of Trompe L’Oeil
"Every time you turn a corner, or a page, in this extraordinary collection of extraordinary stories, you’ll find yourself plunged into a mystery that will take you outside your comfort zone, a mystery that will stretch your imagination, and—because it is never fully disclosed—will continue to resonate after you’ve closed the book. These stories of random violence and inexplicable cruelty and desperate sadness—which range from Fuchsprellen (fox tossing) in early modern Germany to contemporary suburbanites with rats in their basement—are narrated in a variety of voices so vibrant and compelling that you won’t be able to avert your eyes."
—Robert Hellenga, author of The Confessions of Frances Godwin
"Rob McClure Smith’s The Violence is a whirlwind, picking up and holding aloft a dizzying array of voices and settings. Few collections can match its fury or omnivorousness, yet these stories are also incredibly precise, intricately patterned, and carefully, craftily knit together. Smith’s characters speak to us directly, indelibly, just before they’re swept away by the ruptures and dislocations of their lives. The Violence is a lesson—a potent, unforgettable one—in everything the short story can do."
—Will Boast, author of Epilogue