Shadowselves

Jason Ockert. Dzanc, $16.95 trade paper (196p) ISBN 978-1-950539-39-0
Ockert (Wasp Box) delights with his latest, a collection full of quirky and original characters who inhabit a gothic landscape in Florida, “the kickstand of the country.” Many are haunted by “the shadowself,” a force that propels or holds back their doomed-to-fail actions. In “Golden Vulture,” 10-year-old Hoyt has a plan to pluck the feathers from a golden-winged turkey vulture and become rich, until his shadowself realizes the gold on the bird’s feathers is only yellow paint. In “The Immortal Jellyfish,” teenager Clayton Kershaw slips into a coma after a bicycle accident, and his friend Nina makes it her goal to cheer him up by capturing and then promising to show him a nude photograph of her volleyball coach. Elsewhere, Ockert commits to fantastical conceits: when passengers on an airliner release their collective anguish in “Your Nearest Exit May Be Behind You,” it falls over Florida onto a high school teacher named Zig Botham, who gains 400 pounds as a result. Ockert is a natural heir to the grotesquery of Flannery O’Connor with his interest in misfits and his dark, powerful language. The author deserves a wider audience for his risk-taking and wonderfully realized voice. Agent: John Rudolph. Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/04/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Fiction
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