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March 16, 2010

Book Notes - John Jodzio ("If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home")

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

John Jodzio's short story collection If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home, the debut book from Minnesota's Replacement Press, promises a great future for both the new indie publisher as well as the author. Jodzio's stories are wonderfully diverse and sadly comic, and his style is best summed up by Chuck Klosterman, who called him a "thematic traditionalist who feels totally new."

The Millions wrote of the collection:

Jodzio’s prose recalls the stylings of Ann Beattie and Lorrie Moore, yet If You Lived Here takes what is familiar to both and injects it with a contemporary freshness. There is nothing stale here. Jodzio’s writing is vigorous, sparse and pointed, yet beautiful. Each new sentence seems to jump from the final word of the former, creating a veritable leapfrog effect that pulls the reader through stories possessing a powerful sense of urgency. These are tales that must be read, and must be read now.

In his own words, here is John Jodzio's Book Notes music playlist for his debut short story collection, If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home:

I'm a slow writer. This is partly due to the fact that my writing process is certifiably insane: write one sentence, go back to the beginning of that sentence and revise it, write another sentence, go back to the beginning of these two sentences and revise again. Over and over, back and forth, slowly inching forward. Sooner or later I have an actual paragraph.

The other reason I write slowly is because I am constantly trying to find the perfect music to listen to while I'm writing. This usually takes me a lot longer than the actual writing.

Just to give you a clear idea of what I am talking about, in writing/revising/looking for the right music/wiping fingerprint smudges from my glasses, the two previous paragraphs took me like fourteen hours to finish.

Obviously the closest analog to putting together a collection of short stories is ordering songs on an album. When I put together If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home, I endlessly mulled over how things should fit together. Can a story about a bikini queen with a barnacle stuck to her butt cheek sit next to a story about a middle-aged masochist in love with a man in a coma? Should it go dancey one, coming of age one, ballad, ballad, ballad or should it go dancey, dancey, ballad, super fast one, coming of age? While I don't know if I got everything perfect, at least I had enough sense not to put three ballads in a row.

Anyway, here's the playlist for some of the stories in my collection:

Story: "Flight Path
Song: "So Into You" by Atlanta Rhythm Section

This song is so damn creepy. And so is the narrator of this story -- a middle aged cutter named Liz. I can totally hear her humming this as she pushes back the hospital sheets and crawls into bed with her new obsession, a coma patient named Mike Phipps.

Story: "Gravity"

Song: "White Lake" by Deaf Center

This song has great piano that floats over the top of everything, but behind it there's ominous swelling strings and a trudging bass line. Which is how I hope this story reads.

Story: "Monarchs
Song: "Ginger" by Lilys

Ricky, the narrator of Monarchs, is desperately trying to convince Carmen to have sex with him in his father's butterfly barn. There's a road trip and "Ginger" is what I want to be playing in the background when they're driving there.

Story: "Everyone Pranks the Clown"

Song: "Jubalee" by Benji Hughes

This song is all sad and circus-ey – a perfect companion for a story about a paranoid, down-on-his-luck clown who's recently lost his beloved dog.

Story: "Kalispell"

Song: "Believer" by Richard Buckner

Buckner's voice is soooo full of grit and ache. It matches up well this story about an inventor with a bad case of vertigo who's competing with a World War I flying ace for a mercurial blonde's heart.

Story: "Inventory"

Song: "Distance Equals Rate Times Time" by Pixies

A strange baby who swallow anything it gets its hands on and a pair of vastly overmatched parents. While this song probably has something to do with physics or inertia, it fits here too.

Story: "The Egg
Song: "Cardigan" by Flin Flon

Like most of Mark Robinson's stuff, this song is strange and manic. Also, I automatically have to include any song that uses the word "ausgezeichnet" in its lyrics.

Story: "Homecoming"

Song: "Alibi" by Dessa

Dessa kills it. The narrator of my story needs to listen to this one on repeat.

Story: "Alejandra
Song: "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" by the Ramones

Joey Ramone's delivery in this song is a great combo of sneering insincerity and heartfelt frustration. Someone has to pay the price and in this story that's Francine.

Story: "If You Lived Here, You'd Already Be Home"

Song: "Cranberry Sauce" -- Arcwelder

There's really no better song to listen to when you are riding your bike to the rich town to stick your dick in their dog doors and mail slots.

John Jodzio and If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home links:

the author's website

Hipster Book Club review
Magers & Quinn Booksellers review
The Millions review
Small Press Reviews review

Five Chapters short story by the author
MinnPost profile of the author
One Story interview with the author
Storyglossia interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists