Pearl Anniversary for a Dirty Wedding: Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” at 30

Cover of "Jesus' Son"

It’s been three decades since a slim volume of 11 interconnected stories, cobbled together for a few thousand dollars to keep the IRS at bay, changed the landscape of American literature. Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son is one of those books you read in a single sitting, again and again.  It’s a repeat offender, in the best sense of the term. A professor at Brooklyn College handed me my first copy in the late 1990’s—he said only this: “Read this. I’ll say no more.”  I read it often, and I’ve been handing it to students, friends, and family members ever since. As we reach its pearl anniversary, I can’t help but connect this book with Matthew 7:6 and not “casting your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn again and rend you.” Such is the wisdom of this small, epiphanic book about a drifter, druggie, drunk, and ne’er do well as he slowly finds himself working out of drug addiction and acedia and toward a hard-earned, sober redemption and reengagement with the world.

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“The Long Haul”: An Excerpt From Jen Michalski’s “The Company of Strangers”

"The Company of Strangers"

Today, we’re pleased to present an excerpt from Jen Michalski’s collection The Company of Strangers, published by Braddock Avenue Books. Sequoia Nagamatsu said of the book, “By turns irreverent and deeply heartbreaking, Michalski masterfully constructs a collage of sexuality, belonging, and a search for what is possible atop strip malls, parking lots, and bowling alleys.” Read on for “The Long Haul,” one of the stories contained within Michalski’s new book.

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Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s January 2023 Book Preview

January 2023 Books

Would you look at this — it’s 2023. Even more intriguingly, there are a whole bunch of new books due out this year. 2023 is off to an excellent start, we’d argue, with a couple of books we’ve been looking forward to reading for years. This month brings with it an impressive assortment of styles, including formally inventive poetry and politically incisive tales of the uncanny. What are we most excited about? Read on to find out.

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Currents, an Interview Series with Brian Alan Ellis (Episode 101: Brian Alan Ellis)

Brian Alan Ellis

BRIAN ALAN ELLIS runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018) and Hobbies You Enjoy (serialized daily on Instagram: @hobbiesyouenjoy). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, X-R-A-Y, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Jackson Bliss

Jackson Bliss

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.

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A Manifesto on Women, Witches, and Writing: On Caroline Hagood’s “Weird Girls: Writing the Art Monster”

Weird Girls

Caroline Hagood’s Weird Girls blends so much into such a short space of text. The book, or book-length essay, is made up of 90 micro chapters which effortlessly move from literature and mythology to cultural criticism to pop culture to memoir to feminist manifesto.  I immediately began recommending this book to my female friends who are writers and artists, particularly those that have children. Hagood is turning things upside down here and rescripting the age-old, cliched narrative of the madwoman in the attic. She’s drawing on her life, her childhood reading and watching, her creative writing, and her literary, cultural criticism backgrounds to create a fluid hybrid form to inspire female creators out of the labyrinths of artistic self-doubt, in order to embrace the art monster inside them.  It’s a cool and fearless journey, one which had me writing down titles for future bookstore visits and thinking about new blended ways to approach creative nonfiction writing and cultural criticism. 

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Eleven Visions of Dystopia From Around the World

Industry

Dystopias can take many shapes. They can turn up in highly advanced societies and in places where widely available electricity is a distant memory for many. They can be a pervasive presence in the lives of their population, or they can be subtler, a haunting reminder of oppressive societal constraints. Here’s a look at eleven different dystopian novels from writers across the globe. They span a wide array of possible futures, and range in tone from the futuristic to the familiar. But all of them raise questions and alarms about the present moment, and how certain familiar tendencies circa now can evolve into something horrifying.

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