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March 21, 2016

Book Notes - John Jodzio "Knockout"

Knockout

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

John Jodzio's outstanding short story collection Knockout is filled with highly empathetic portraits of outcasts.

Michael Schaub wrote of the collection at NPR Books:

"It's difficult to write with emotional honesty about the people on the very edge of society, the misfits among misfits. But even when he writes with humor, Jodzio never treats his characters as a joke. He's a compassionate writer who is refreshingly unafraid to take risks, and his book is, well, a knockout."


In his own words, here is John Jodzio's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collections Knockout:


If I had to pick a recurring theme for my new short story collection, Knockout, it would probably be resiliency – most of these are stories are about flawed people patching together flawed solutions for their overturned lives, soldiering on even when the world keeps saying nope, nope, sorry, nope. The playlist below reflects what I imagine the characters in each story would queue up to get them through a rough patch/use as a life raft to arrive to a more hopeful place.

On a more personal note, this playlist is also comprised of songs I leaned on during the five years it took me to write these stories -- songs which buffeted me through days that tested my patience and confidence, songs which inspired me to keep grinding away when I did not want to grind any more, songs which stood on my adrenal gland until it spit out a little more juice.


Story: Great Alcoholic-Owned Bed and Breakfasts of the Eastern Seaboard

Song: "Gates of Dawn" – Heartless Bastards


Perfect soundtrack for when you accidentally shoot that raccoon that lives inside the roof of your failing bed and breakfast and the raccoon blood streams over the window of the only guest you've had in three months.

Story: Duplex

Song: "I Luv the Valley OH" – Shearwater


There's lots of beardtying/meat shoplifting/aphrodisiac drinking in this story and this Shearwater cover of a Xiu Xiu song somehow seems to speak to all of these things in both word and deed.

Story: Ackerman Is Selling His Sex Chair For Ten Bucks

Song: "W/O U" - GEMS


Sometimes your secret lover dies and you go to her husband's garage sale in hopes of purchasing a small memento to mark your love, but you get there late and the only thing of hers that's left is a gently used Swedish sex swing.

Story: Knockout

Song: "Work, Work" - Clipping


Dedicated to anyone who has ever been peer pressured to steal a malnourished tiger and sell it to a wacko drug dealer.

Story: Inside Work

Song: "Nightcall" - Kavinsky


In this story a cough syrup addict thinks her estranged husband keeps returning to hide random objects underneath her breasts while she's asleep. This song, dripping with a dreamy creepiness, seems especially appropriate here.

Story: Chet

Song: "Fuck Em All" - Joe Budden


Theme music for Chet, a power plant worker with an itchy taser finger who has to deal with a senile priest who won't stop digging up his brother's grave.

Story: The Indoor Baby

Song: "Everything New" – No Joy


If you let fear control you, you will end up as an agoraphobic who raises her newborn exclusively indoors and spouts things like "Are you aware that the womb is the most indoorsy organ of all?"

Story: Winnipeg

Song: "La (Sebastian Freij Rework)"- Nils Frahm


The best way to survive global warming is to move to Canada and listen to some soothing Nils Frahm while you asschug some whiskey.

Story: Our Mom and Pop Opium Den

Song: "Lie, Cheat, Steal" – Run the Jewels


When an opium den franchise moves in across the street from your mom and pop opium den you definitely want a fight song with enough energy and anger to rally even your most blissed out customers.


John Jodzio and Knockout links:

the author's website

Kirkus review
LitReactor review
NPR Books review
Publishers Weekly review

CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
Crave interview with the author
Erica Rivera interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Get in If You Want to Live
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home
Minnesota Public Radio interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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