The Neighborhood Division
Jeff Vande Zande
Jeff Vande Zande’s latest story collection travels down the shady lanes of the American neighborhood.
From kids egging windows to lost joggers and insomniacs to basement prisoners and Orwellian gated communities,
these stories grow ever more surreal, holding a darkened mirror up to that which we are — and may become.
In this poignant collection of stories, Jeff Vande Zande writes of individuals holding on in quiet desperation
to a fragmented sense of belonging and personal autonomy within a larger world—a neighborhood as such—controlled
by rigid systems of power, conservatism, cruelty, seclusion and enforced conformity. These stories catalogue the quiet,
suppressed rage and anguish of individuals who’ve lost something poignant and private unto themselves—be it love,
independence, bravery, autonomy, security, purpose, place, relationship, self-confidence or well-being.
At a wider angle, Vande Zande extends an empathic, concerned hand to the human biosphere—be it a neighborhood nearby,
perhaps yours or mine—inextricably being denuded of personal freedom, human kindness and creative initiative.
In the most heroic story of this collection he invites us to consider—as if imploring us onward—that,
“You forget how powerful you can be. One person.”
Don’t be fooled by what initially seems familiar in Vande Zande’s stories. An unsettling, almost surreal quality
quickly spins the characters into uncertain territory where you truly don’t know what will happen. Each of them
face harrowing challenges that are theirs alone, and there's no going back. I found these stories as compelling as they were chilling.
Turgenev said that we all come from beneath “The Overcoat,” and the wardrobe one discovers in Jeff Vande Zande’s
The Neighborhood Division and Other Stories truly unbuttons startling new revelations. These fictions are a
Sartor Resartus of the form and content found in the linings of the heart, fierce and bold patterns that brilliantly
retailor the whole grotesque haberdashery of Winesburg, Ohio. This read was quite the runway show.
Jeff Vande Zande teaches fiction writing and film at Delta College in Michigan. His other books include the novels
Landscape with Fragmented Figures (Bottom Dog Press) and Detroit Muscle (Whistling Shade Press).
His novel American Poet won a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan.