Reasons Why You Should Give a Shit About John Jodzio and His New Book

Written to reflect how I would make myself care about his new short story collection, Get In If You Want to Live, were I not already familiar with John Jodzio.

1. John Jodzio has written for McSweeney’s. Some of those selections include:

A Toast to Randy, The Oldest Son of My Secret Family

James, I Cannot Even Begin to Imagine Who Threw a Bag of Shit into Your Dishwasher

2. His last release, If You Lived Here, You’d Already Be Home was one of the best books written by a Minnesotan author in years.

Ok, the only proof I have of this is my own experience. My college paper regularly reviewed books by local authors which were the most boring things I’d ever seen. When I edited a review of John’s book, I grabbed it and absorbed it in about two sittings. It was a strange, beautiful short story collection about fucked up but oddly relatable people.

I bookmarked his name in my head forever.

3. The physical book will make you care about the experience of holding physical books again.

I peeked at the digital copy of Get In If You Want to Live weeks ago. I thought it was captivating – full of illustrations from many of my favorite local designers and artists.

But when I got the book in the mail, it was another story. The cover had a soft, recycled-feeling texture with a peekaboo window showing an illustration of a neurotic man holding his knees.The spine was thin with microscopic font – you have to squint to see the author’s name, but in a way that makes you want to stop right there on the bookshelf.

The opening pages are full of interesting textural overlays, and each story has its own illustration, making it feel like a McSweeney’s book for those of us with poor attention spans, wanting the stories shorter, snappier, each accompanied by a picture to sit and analyze.

The publishing company, Paper Darts, deserves a slow clap for this one.

4. It feels like a flag waving up from Minneapolis, saying “We have an interesting publishing and illustration scene! Proof right here.”

The book is full of big names in local art, like Jennifer Davis and Terrence Payne. Google em. Not bad, huh?

There are also contributions from people I know – the cover type by my co-worker Missy Austin and graphic design by my friend Kyle Coughlin.

Altogether, holding this book makes me feel like something big is happening in Minneapolis, something that includes both writers and artists, but more importantly, collaboration.

5. John Jodzio’s writing style is unique, and refreshing.

In this book, he uses a series of small vignettes to inhabit immoral characters – psychopaths, sexual deviants, people who are just plain shallow – in ways that are both forgiving and hilarious at the same time. In a time of shamelessly autobiographical fiction, John Jodzio instead stretches the limits of subject matter. Instead of talking about his own relationships, he’d rather deal with hookers that love chili, a heroin dealer committed to freshness or a bear addicted to sex outside its species. Anything goes with Jodzio, but it’s always hilarious.

6. He’s also been published here, if that counts for anything. And he was nice about it too.

Final review: Thumbs-up hardcore.

You can order Get In If You Want to Live here.

-Becky Lang