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The Goat Fish and the Lover's Knot

Jack Driscoll

Award Winner

Fiction, Michigan

Published: April 2017
ISBN: 9780814342954
Pages: 176 Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Published: April 2017
ISBN: 9780814342961

Elmore Leonard said about Jack Driscoll's stories, "The guy can really write." And in The Goat Fish and the Lover's Knot, he once again demonstrates in every sentence the grace and grit of a true storyteller. The ten stories are mostly set in Michigan's northern lower peninsula, a landscape as gorgeous as it is severe. If at times the situations in these stories appear hopeless, the characters nonetheless, and even against seemingly impossible odds, dare to hope. These fictional individuals are so compassionately rendered that they can hardly help but be, in the hands of this writer, not only redeemed but made universal.

The stories are written from multiple points of view and testify to Driscoll's range and understanding of human nature, and to how "the heart in conflict with itself" always defines the larger, more meaningful story. A high school pitching sensation loses his arm in a public school classroom during show and tell. A woman lives all of her ages in one day. A fourteen-year-old boy finds himself alone after midnight in a rowboat in the middle of the lake with his best friend's mother. Driscoll is a prose stylist of the highest order — a voice as original as the stories he tells.

Lovers of contemporary storytelling will revel in Driscoll's skill and insight on display in this unique collection.

Jack Driscoll is a two-time NEA Creative Writing Fellowship recipient and the author of eleven books, including the short story collections Wanting Only to Be Heard, winner of the AWP Short Fiction Award, and The World of a Few Minutes Ago (Wayne State University Press, 2012), winner of the Society of Midland Authors Award and the Michigan Notable Book Award. His stories have appeared widely in journals, including The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Missouri Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and New Stories from the Midwest. He currently teaches in Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program in Oregon.

Every sentence written by Jack Driscoll is a miracle—and every story bright with humor and heart and insight. The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot will hypnotize you with its lyrical beauty.

– Benjamin Percy, author of Thrill Me, The Dead Lands, Red Moon, The Wilding, and Refresh, Refresh

In this new collection, Jack Driscoll has proven himself again to be one of the finest fiction writers at work these days. His great gift is how uniquely he is able to bestow complexity upon his characters, complete their humanity with just this or that perfect detail, or gesture, or line of dialogue. Combined with the empathy that, as a writer, he shows for all of them, along with his sly eye for foibles and absurdities, reading his fiction feels like living it, and you come away from his pages under his influence, with a deeper vision of your own, feeling understood and better able to understand. There’s no sentimentality in The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot, but Driscoll is able to see through others’ eyes in a way few writers can, and his work adds to the world’s store of compassion. And, such language! Without ever compromising the power and immediacy and pull of his stories, his sentences often just have to be reread and admired. There’s everything in this book that a work of fiction can give us—suspense, and comfort, and conflict, and character, and poetry, and landscape, and sanity, and craziness. It’s the kind of book that renews one’s belief in the power and importance of books.

– Laura Kasischke, author of The Infinitesimals

These are tales of family mayhem and magic—of how love survives and how we survive love—each of them told in the rich, wry voice of the real. Jack Driscoll is a local hero to Michigan writers; this book proves him a national treasure.

– Peter Ho Davies, author of The Fortunes

A new book by Jack Driscoll is a cause for celebration. The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot reminds me—not that I’d forgotten—exactly why Driscoll has long been one of my favorite American writers. The qualities that have made his work indelible—his deeply intimate relationship with the natural world, the natural lyricism, and palpability of his language, the authentic way in which his always credible narratives earn their mystery—are here in abundance in this beautiful collection.

– Stuart Dybek, author of The Start of Something: The Selected Stories of Stuart Dybek

You’ll savor every word as Driscoll sings the sad, sweet songs of rural America. These songs believe in heartaches and miracles. These miracles look up at the stars and see humanity in the constellations.

– Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

Moving across place and memory, these stories are technically dazzling and deeply affecting accounts of precarious lives in a unique environment.

– Alexander Moran, Booklist (Advanced Review)

Set mostly in Northern Michigan, these precise, intricately constructed stories feel crystalline in their authenticity. Driscoll is a masterful writer who makes it look easy.

– Dawn Raffel, Big Other

The writing in this collection of stories is wonderful, the characters are raw, some stuck in their hopeless lives and old enough to know it’s not going to get better, others are scratching to escape households where their parents are miserable with the struggle of staying afloat, some still altered after being burned by love physically, bottom dwellers and those just ‘knocking around’. The children are just as perceptive and believable as the grown ups, maybe a little criminal but for good purposes.

– Lolly K Dandeneau, bookstalkerblog

It’s no wonder Jack Driscoll has been singled out as one of America’s greatest writers. The ten stories in his new book are elegantly written.

– Lisa Lenzo, Interlochen Public Radio

There’s a beauty here, both in language and in content, and Driscoll is the master of capturing a delicate humanity where most people might be least likely to look. It is no accident that this collection ends with a story about miracles, and the arc of this book as a collection is beautiful and deliberate. Narrative’s tension comes from time, after all, and what is time but a life unfolding?

– Natalie Bakopoulos, Fiction Writers Review

Gearing up or slowing down, these short stories from [ . . . ] Jack Driscoll are a great way to leap into summer reading.

– Glen Young, Petoskey News

The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot, ten stories comprising Jack Driscoll’s eleventh book, provides all the proof any judge of literature would need to place Driscoll near the top of what America has to offer in the way of supremely gifted writers.

– Duff Brenna, The Education of Oronte Churm

The ten stories in The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot come from the pen of a writer who always tells the truth, but also understands that truth is more than just cobwebs and dark places. Though his characters are down on their luck in some ways, they look to the future with a hopefulness and sense of grace that seems to light the world beyond the page.

– Mary Stewart Atwell, fictionwritersreview.com

Upper Peninsula Bestseller List for May 2017

– Great Lakes Review

Like all Driscoll's stories, the ones in this brilliant new collection beg to be read aloud...The Goat Fish and the Lover's Knot is filled with vivid characters and compelling plots, but, in the end, it's the language that makes a Jack Driscoll story a Jack Driscoll story. Which, as many would agree, is the best kind of story there is.

– Sharon Harrigan, The Nervous Breakdown

The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot, ten stories comprising Jack Driscoll’s eleventh book, provides all the proof any judge of literature would need to place Driscoll near the top of what America has to offer in the way of supremely gifted writers. As he has shown in works such as Wanting Only to be Heard, The World of a Few Minutes Ago, How Like an Angel, and many other novels, stories and poems, Driscoll is something of a savant when it comes to anatomizing men, women and children in their interactions with themselves and one another—mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, siblings of either sex, all in their individual ways functional and dysfunctional.

– Duff Brenna, Inside Higher Ed

Driscoll is a prose stylist of the highest order with a voice as original as the stories he tells. Lovers of contemporary storytelling will revel in Driscoll’s skill and insight on display in this unique collection.

– The Alpena News

And you remember you’re in the hands of a pro. That he’s writing from a tradition, from a terrain. That he’s interested in something authentic. He’s giving us gentle reminders; how in spite of our flaws and weakness, snow and stars can still slide in. Grace and "God spots" too.

– Emily Sernaker, The Rumpus

  • 2017 Midwest Book Awards - Result: Finalist in the Fiction - Short Story category
  • 2018 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually
  • 2018 John Gardner Fiction Book Award - Result: 2018 Finalist