KNOCKOUT by John Jodzio


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A breakout book of short stories that packs a wicked punch.

This is Jodzio’s third story collection (If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home, 2010, etc.). A Jodzio story’s lineage is by way of George Saunders, Kelly Link, and Mark Leyner. His roots are in flash fiction, and he has learned how to put a little more meat on those bones. These 17 well-crafted tales, most first person, most short, are tight, funny, and bizarre—each is its own absurd world made real. The characters are misfits and losers who can’t seem to get a break but remain hopeful dreamers. In the title story, two guys just post-rehab have discovered how to knock out animals using a Spock-like pinch behind the neck. When they try to do it on a neighbor’s tiger in order to sell it for drug money, things go terribly wrong. “The Indoor Baby” is about an agoraphobic woman who's convinced that the “womb is the most indoorsy organ of all” and won’t let her baby go outside. A son who runs his mom and pop's opium den must compete with a brand-new big-box Opium Depot store across the street. In “Ackerman Is Selling His Sex Chair for Ten Bucks,” the narrator misses Ackerman’s wife so much he has to buy something she once sat in. In “Duplex,” the longest story, a young man rents a room from Jayhole, a retired bounty hunter, whose previous roommate killed himself because he couldn’t take Jayhole’s perverse sense of humor. Some stories are too slight and a bit dull, but the others are sharp, shiny, and dangerous.

Dark, grim, and sardonically funny, Jodzio’s stories stick like gum to the side of your brain and won’t shake loose.

Pub Date: March 8th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59376-635-1
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2016


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