This book is WEIRD AS HELL. For those of you faint of, well, anything, go back to your heartwarming stories, this book isn’t for you. For the rest of you, indulge yourself in these quirky, delightfully vulgar, and sinfully hilarious fiction shorts from the popular Minneapolis author.
The 19 shorts range in topics from hookers to kidnappers to zombies, and the first person narrator in all of them is tumbling with tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic humor. It’s a purely entertaining, zippy read through a properly messy fantasy/hell world. Jodzio is fond of highly unusual situations or people and of taking the story on a turn for the bizarre by asking “What if?” to everything.
As it is with most collections, certain stories stood out after digesting the work as a whole. I found myself going back to plenty, including the title piece, “Get In If You Want To Live,” a story about a woman scavenging in a world overtaken by zombies; “I Am Committed To Getting You Your Heroin At The Peak Of Its Freshness” (pretty self explanatory); and “My Kidnapper Gives A Really Good Backrub.” Here’s an excerpt from the latter to give you a small taste of Jodzio’s killer style of writing (although these are best read as a whole story):
Randall eats dinner with me in the tiny room he built below his basement. He tells me that this is as fast as he’s ever seen someone get Stockholm Syndrome. I tell him he’s never met my older sister, Janine.
As for the not-as-memorable stories, there aren’t very many. A couple that did fall a bit short of expectations (set by Jodzio himself, mind you, so no sympathy there) were “My Codpiece Smells Like Soup” and “The Hookers In My Neighborhood Really Love My Chili.” Either the humor was there, but the plot wasn’t very strong, or the plot was there, but the humor didn’t quite deliver.
Each short is accompanied by a work (or two) of art from a range of locals and international artists. Some of my favorites were Ainara Del Valle and Sandra Diekman. It’s rare that it works well to have such high-personality art next to literature, something that is typically only seen successfully in literary magazines. If the literary side of the pair was a longer, single piece, who knows if the art would’ve worked so well, but here, both forms hold their own, as well as complement each other. This is Paper Darts’ first foray into the book publishing business, and you can see the influence of their literary magazine on every page of this book. I’m intrigued to see how this model works with future projects.
If you, like me, were thinking that these stories sound like they’re straight from McSweeney’s, well, you’re right. Jodzio’s been published there loads of times, as well as in Opium, The Tangential, and some local mags such as MN Monthly, METRO, and Vita.mn. He also won the Loft-McKnight Fellowship and has a previous collection of short fiction, If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home, published by Replacement Press.
Want more? Check out this interview with Jodzio on the Paper Darts website. You’ll have to scroll down to find it, but it’s worth it.
Does the quirkiness remind you of another writer? What short fiction writers are your favorites?