Hello, Story366! A late post tonight, so I’ll get right into the book and the story, then catch you up on my day–an exciting one for short stories–either at the end of the post or tomorrow, just to make sure I post by midnight.
Todays’s story comes from John Jodzio‘s recent story collection Knockout, out this year from Soft Skull Press. I’ve read Jodzio’s stories here and there, but didn’t have a solid grip on what he does going in, so like yesterday’s post on Beth Bosworth, I went into Knockout pretty raw.
And like with Bosworth’s book yesterday, I’m immediately a huge fan of Jodzio and his work. I love all of the stories in this book, and read on and on, even when I knew I was going to write about “Ackerman Is Selling His Sex Chair for Ten Bucks,” my favorite of the lot.
“Ackerman Is Selling His Sex Chair for Ten Bucks” is about this guy who goes to Ackerman’s garage sale and wants to buy his sex chair for ten bucks. So he does Great story, right?! But there’s more. The guy, the protagonist and narrator, used to have an affair with Ackerman’s wife, Elaine, but then Elaine died in a car wreck, on the way to the motel to have the affair sex with the guy (which he didn’t find out about for a few days). So there he is, a couple of months after Elaine is dead, buying Elaine’s sex chair, the one she probably used with Ackerman, who doesn’t know about the affair, by the way. Hooked yet? I was, like right away. Jodzio’s prose is really easy, really straight forward, and this sex chair buyer is just telling the story how it happens.
The story gets even better when the guy wants to get into the house, to see how Elaine lived, and fakes fainting. He goes down, lets Ackerman drag him in to the sofa, where he makes friends with Ackerman. When Ackerman goes to the bathroom, he pockets a bunch of Elaine’s things, including a framed picture and some panties, which he jocks. Then … well, that’s far enough, enough plot.
All of the stories in Knockout are that easy, that matter of fact. And they’re all about people who have done bad things–not necessarily bad people–doing things to make the bad things worse. The title story, “Knockout,” is about two drug addicts who steal a tiger so they can buy drugs after they sell it. But that’s not the best part; the best part is how they interact in other parts of the story, how they fight until one knocks the other out, often, and then they write shit like “Dummy” on each other’s asses in Magic Marker. Like all the time. That’s the kind of people who inhabit Jodzio’s stories, people who steal tigers and graffiti their friends’ asses and buy their lover’s sex chair from her widowed husband. Did I mention that I LOVE this book?
I know I say this a lot, but I’m going to read this whole book now because what I read is so damned good. John Jodzio’s book is right near the top of the pile for this project, if not at the top. Do yourself a favor and get this book right now and then read it immediately.