ABOUT SWALLOWED BY THE COLD
In Jensen Beach’s extraordinarily poised collection, Swallowed by the Cold, his protagonists are besieged and haunted by disasters both personal and national: a fatal cycling accident, a drowned mother, a fire on a ferry, a mysterious arson, the assassination of the Swedish foreign minister, and, decades earlier, the Soviet bombing of Stockholm. In these stories, a drunken, lonely woman is convinced that her new neighbor is the daughter of her dead lover; a one-armed tennis player and a motherless girl reckon with death amid a rainstorm; and happening upon a car crash, a young woman is unaccountably drawn to the victim, even as he slides into a coma and her marriage falls into jeopardy. Again and again they find themselves unable to express their innermost feelings to those they are closest to, but often drawn to confide in strangers.
With confidence and subtle precision, Beach’s prose evokes their reticence but is supple enough to reveal deeper passions and intense longing. Shot through with loss and the regret of missed opportunities, Swallowed by the Cold is a searching and crystalline book by a startlingly talented young writer.
“Characters’ morally ambiguous actions . . . simultaneously provoke readers’ judgment and invite compassion. . . . [Swallowed by the Cold] memorably depicts how selfish humans can be, and how often we’re alienated from one another.”
Swallowed by the Cold moved me enormously. Jensen Beach renders his characters in a way that is both unsettling and deeply complex, and he imbues the Swedish landscape that surrounds them with a layered personality. This is a wonderful book—graceful and assured, spare and compassionate—and Jensen Beach is a fiercely talented writer.
“The unexpected convergences and dramatic shifts in fortune of Beach’s characters make for a measured, quietly powerful experience.”
Swallowed by the Cold empathizes with the way we get too caught up in our own messes to notice when our fellow man is, however figuratively, bleeding out alone on a beach.”
-DANIEL JOHNSON, The Paris Review Staff Picks
The shocking accident in the first story of Swallowed by the Cold centers this collection like a knife. Jensen Beach understands the deep uneasiness of men and women, and in his stories lie surprises—mortal surprises, among others—that are revealed in vivid episodes of quiet harm. This book held me fast.
Beneath the charmingly lucid and tranquil surface of these amazing stories lies profound mystery, turmoil, and complexity. Jensen Beach is an exceptional witness, and this is a singular collection. Honestly, fans of contemporary short fiction can’t do much better than this.
Jensen Beach is a master of linguistic restraint, a writer whose precision, empathy, and relentless honesty form the spine of this extraordinary work of fiction. Taken individually, these stories are works of art. It’s when the collection is viewed as a whole, however, that an intricate fictional latticework emerges. Each story here is the progenitor of the next, each life therein a quiet catastrophe, each character both victim and witness, bound to every other character in those unknowable ways that bind us all together. This is not just a book, but a world.
ABOUT FOR OUT OF THE HEART PROCEED
In his debut collection of stories, Jensen Beach’s characters discover what it means to be individuals, colleagues, husbands and fathers in a world that too often complicates the best intentions with sabotage and subterfuge. What’s most striking about these narratives is the protagonists’ ability to continually make right, difficult decisions despite being placed in challenging, dangerous situations. Readers will delight in Beach’s powerful, deft prose, and the surprising warmth that radiates from his people. Each story is a robust chronicle that churns and evolves and offers glimpses into fully-realized lives. To say this marks the arrival of a gifted author is true but somehow misses the mark, as the maturity and sincerity that pulses throughout this collection signals a writer whose many talents have been carefully developed and honed.
Pithy and pertinent, Jensen Beach’s stories reach out and grab you in the opening line, and they don’t let go until the final period. This writer’s not into wasting words. He makes every one count. His fiction is both direct and vivid, and I found a surprise or two on virtually every page. I feel tremendous enthusiasm for this young writer’s work.
-STEVE YARBROUGH, AUTHOR OF SAFE FROM THE NEIGHBORS
The stories in Jensen Beach’s debut collection unfold menacingly in plain daylight. They seduce us into feeling at ease until the ground gives way under our feet. Here are people who hope to love and to protect those they love and people who fall down trying. Who burn down and stand up and heroically (stubbornly!) begin to live again.
-NOY HOLLAND, AUTHOR OF WHAT BEGINS WITH BIRD
The collection is peopled with troubled characters struggling to make sense of their circumstances, choices, and connection to others. What is perhaps most compelling about these stories are the interesting and memorable ways the characters grapple with issues of faith: Faith in themselves, others, the world, and the divine.
–ETHEL ROHAN, AT HTMLGIANT
This book holds some of the most beautiful father and son stories I have ever read. This book is the father I never had.
–MICHAEL KIMBALL, AUTHOR OF US
These stories are like a friend’s dad sitting down to talk to you and after a few minutes you realize he’s seen a lot more than you ever will and is possibly dangerous, but that’s a good thing and you want him to keep talking.
–SCOTT DAUGHTRIDGE, AT VOUCHED BOOKS
It’s easy to let a day, or a set of days, pass by; nothing is singular about them, or so it seems…and then you read Jensen Beach’s wonderful collection, and you see how there is horror and joy, ugliness and beauty in the everyday, and you’re missing it. Read For out of the Heart Proceed, and then enter your day with better eyes.
–LINDSAY HUNTER, AUTHOR OF DADDY’S
Beach’s stories strive to recognize why […] sacrifices and longings, as byproducts of past choices, are awesome and beautiful. These stories are about the pain of being alive, the requisite hurt that often comes with understanding.
-MEL BOSWORTH, AUTHOR OF FREIGHT