Available on SOLD OUT (though I still have a few copies if you find me at readings):
The stories in Box Cutters, Samuel Snoek-Brown’s flash fiction collection, operate on the principle that what’s included suggests what’s left out, with certain pieces resonating so profoundly that you can’t catch your breath. . . .
The book begins, “There was that time we drove four hours in the middle of the night just to have eggs at this diner she’d read about in the Lifestyles section of someone else’s newspaper, down at the library.” This opening story shows Snoek-Brown at the height of power, mastering the sort of casual, interior ramble that puts us, as readers, inside the skull and soul of someone that sounds like flesh and blood and warts and dimples.
The complexity in these tiny stories is large and voracious and it swallows you and forces you to reckon with what can cut you, harm you, if you are not careful. Samuel Snoek-Brown, an Oregon Literary Fellow, will continue to amaze you and haunt you with his lyricism and critique of human nature. I look forward to reading his debut novel to see how he expands on his talent.
The rest of the collection has similar pacing and depth, similar honesty from the characters. None of them seem ashamed of who they are—even when it feels like they maybe should be, like Lemuel in “Distance” or the narrator in “Dream With Enough Conviction.” These are characters who act a bit shamefully but don’t apologize for it.
The familiar-made-wonderfully-strange image of a ventriloquist’s dummy is just one of the many moments that has stayed with me from Sam Snoek-Brown’s Box Cutters. So too has the image of multicolored bruises, those of the body, ego, and heart. Bruises make us tender, make us hurt. Bruises simultaneously resist and seek out contact, just like the wounded and wandering spirits from these stories.
—Ethel Rohan, author of Goodnight Nobody
Three writers meet at a bar: Stephen Dixon, Fielding Dawson, and Richard Brautigan. Let’s write six stories, they say (after quite a few cocktails), six really, really short stories, and they did, and here those stories are, under the unlikely nom de plume Sam Snoek-Brown.
—Bill Roorbach, author of Big Bend and Life Among Giants
From within the simple Americana situations of Raymond Carver, Samuel Snoek-Brown is able to combine astute observation, Tom Waits-style lyricism and heartbreak, and a bit of poetry to reveal, in brief, tense bursts, human beings creating and then questioning their own estrangement from each other. He asks in the first of the six flash fiction pieces that compose Box Cutters “how long my bruises will last”. The answer is subtly woven throughout the collection. From a wife who has a mysterious attraction to her husband’s murderer to the ventriloquist dummy that seems to stand between a hardened woman and her breaking, Snoek-Brown’s characters are both metaphorical and the primal stuff of our daily struggle to find a place in the world — a world that defines us yet is also defined by our choices and actions. The bruises will never fade as long as we let them define us, Snoek-Brown seems to answer. But who or what would we become without the pain we’ve crafted as a home for our identities?
—John Sibley Williams, author of Controlled Hallucinations