“Idiot Men” by Scott Gould

Scott Gould’s newest collection, Idiot Men, provides the stage for wayward characters who make poor choices in life and love against a backdrop of elegant prose. In “Word of the Day” (winner of the 2020 Larry Brown Short Story Award), a long-haul truck driver’s wife flees to Jamaica with her lover, leaving him to babysit her hairless tomcat, Princess Di. A male nurse discovers a room full of counterfeit NASCAR paraphernalia during a home health visit to a trailer park in “Playing Chicken.”

Outside, two men sprinted away in the darkness, their footsteps slapping the pavement. What they left behind was my Valiant…It was jacked up in the back. Strips of white shag carpet ringed very window. A Virgin Mary dangled from the mirror. A note fluttered under the windshield wiper.

(from “Playing Chicken”)

“Smokey the Bear Has the Matches” features a lonely, amateur arsonist who finds love during his one-year sentence in a Smokey the Bear suit; and a disgruntled roofer with a bad back and a meth-dealing twin brother escapes to freedom on the rooftops in “The Smells at Certain Heights.”

The sheriff’s department put on a crystal meth demonstration in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, lecturing folks about what all was in it. Lester looked over at me about halfway through the show and said, “This will be easier than I thought.

(from “The Smells at Certain Heights”)

These are just a few of the idiot men you’ll encounter in a collection of stories that will appeal to readers who relish their literature with a Southern flavor. The stories in “Idiot Men”—which first appeared in magazines like New Madrid Journal, Pangyrus, Pithead Chapel, BULL, and Reckon Review—recalibrate morality and convention as readers will grow to love the characters despite, and perhaps because of, their flaws.


 “Within the pages of Scott Gould’s hilarious and touching Idiot Men you’ll find a half-broken

Chevy Nova, a bald cat, a Smokey the Bear costume, a Naugahyde recliner, a colon-cleaning

machine strapped into the bed of an El Camino, six or seven dive bars, a lot of driving, and many many broken hearts. You’ll also find a writer able to make you laugh out loud and move you deeply, often in the same sentence. This book is a blast.”

-Nic Brown, author of Bang Bang Crash


“Yes, the protagonists in Idiot Men make questionable choices at times, but they do so with big-hearted, well-meant, honorable intentions. And if they’re idiots, well, they’re our idiots. Here’s a great congregation of stories, told in Gould’s unmistakable voice.”

-George Singleton, author of The Curious Lives of Nonprofit Martyrs


Scott Gould

Scott Gould is the author of the novels, Whereabouts and The Hammerhead Chronicles, a memoir, Things That Crash, Things That Fly, as well as the story collections, Idiot Men and Strangers to Temptation. His honors include a 2022 Memoir Prize for Books, the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction, the S.C. Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship in Prose, an Independent Press Award, an IPPY Award for Southern Fiction and the Larry Brown Short Story Award. His work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, New Madrid Journal, Pangyrus, New Ohio Review, Crazyhorse, Pithead ChapelBULL, Garden & Gun, New Stories from the South, and others. He lives in Sans Souci, South Carolina.

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