John Jodzio, whose recent breakout collection Knockout was hailed by the New York Times Book Review (“every story inventive and a pleasure to read”) and NPR (“He’s a compassionate writer who is refreshingly unafraid to take risks, and his book is, well, a knockout”), returns with this expanded and updated edition of his cult classic. Jodzio has been lauded for his writing that delicately walks the line between the pain and humor of human experience, the small truths that are exposed through ludicrous situations, and the captivating characters that must navigate them.
This is a collection where every single story had an ending that made me say, ’Goddamn.’ These stories were my kind of stories-a little weird and magical and bittersweet.
John Jodzio has a spare, dark, funny style that manages to be sardonic without forfeiting sympathy. That’s really effing hard.
Jodzio’s wonderful collection, If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home, is a set of colorful and seemingly fractured tales, each shining brilliantly alone, but also growing more vibrant as one story lays over another. Together they form an intricately stained glass window that looks out onto a whole new world.
Jodzio presents 21 tales of woe, yet he never insults the reader by feeling sorry for his characters, nor do his characters ever feel especially sorry for themselves. They’re all dealing in good faith with a world that’s gone horribly awry, all playing the cards they’ve been dealt and making the best of their bad situations.
Death, or the approach of it, abounds in If You Lived Here, yet the collection is far from morbid, and is, in fact, quite funny, as Jodzio’s dark wit and pithy humor offer a pitch-perfect balance to scenes that, in the hands of a lesser writer, would verge on the sentimental, the cliché or the plain mean. Jodzio’s reality is a cruel one, but he is not a writer who revels in this cruelty; rather he respects his characters, and manages to find beauty in even the most dire moments, to elicit empathy towards some of the most frigid beings imaginable.
Each of the 21 stories begins with a pop and then unfolds in a taut, colloquial style filled with wit and pathos. The intensity rarely wanes as the characters struggle with loss and alienation and stumble toward happiness.
...the comic conceit here always turns back toward something else, and all the harassed clowns, golf trap bog bodies, and barnacles attaching themselves to human asses are attempts, by Jodzio, to grasp something about the end of childhood, about the slow agony of growing up. From drunken, violent Make-a-Wish fishing trips to the simple pleasure of sucking nitrous from cans of Reddi Whip, the scenes of childhood, in Jodzio’s world, convey both awkwardness and hope, pushed forward by a kind of blind courage and an inchoate fear.