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". . .fall in love with Jodi Angel and her new story collection, You Only Get Letters from Jail. . ."
"Best Book of Summer. . .Prose stripped down to the primer. Dialogue that burns like cheap whiskey. Teenaged guys with dirt under their fingernails and Doritos stains on their shirts trying to keep it together as they lose their mothers to death and drugs, as they lose themselves in a culture that doesn't give much of a damn about men without manicures. Jodi Angel does give a damn: She has these stories to prove it."
". . .Jodi Angel writes with a voice dripping with sweat and Schlitz. You Only Get Letters from Jail is about young men and women teetering on a razor’s bloody edge, living lives in which cheap thrills are the only kind."
"Angel is an indie-press star."
". . .Angel bravely does what many writers are afraid to do. In tough, sometimes brutally lyrical language, she gives young, desperate voices—including their slang—full rein of the stage."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"[T]hese stories describe the moments of adrenaline and gut instinct that can mark an imperiled adolescent’s first break for something better or set a course for a lifetime on the skids. . .Every time [Angel] dives into this all too familiar world, she surfaces with insights both beautiful and strange."
"A must-read for short story lovers and anyone who was ever a screwed-up teenager.”
"You Only Get Letters from Jail contains first rate fiction, crackling with conflict, high stakes, and drama; it’s a joy to read and definitely one of the year’s best."
"Angel collects 11 visceral stories focused on the lives of young men who feel and seem trapped by their circumstances."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"That voice is active and highly descriptive, yet never anxious nor panicked. In Letters From Jail, things look grim. But they rarely look hopeless. . .The burn comes from Angel's profound powers of description, which allow a reader to taste a beer that's gone warm during a lakeside outing, smell the burned rubber after a hot rod brakes too quickly or feel the enveloping flesh of an overweight barfly who provides unexpected comfort to the boy who lost his mother."
—The Sacramento Bee
"Like a master phlebotomist, Angel manages to hit vein again and again, allowing her hardscrabble narrators grace and particularity rarely aligned with male characters from harsh backgrounds."
"The prose in Angel’s story collection, all about young men who can’t seem to grow up, has a distinct, dreamy sentimentalism to it; somehow, it seems to hold your hand as you turn each page. But it has teeth, too. She depicts vivid scenes of places you’d never choose to go, and yet, you’d never dare turn away. Nor would you dare forget them. It’s a feat."
"Jodi Angel writes like an angel—in the full sense of the designation--which is to say someone fallen out of the armpit of a restless deity—sharp-eyed, ruthless, and tender at the same time. I'd walk a long way to hear her read these stories, and plan to buy a half dozen copies just so I can give them away saying, 'Look at this. You have never before read anything like this.'"
"Jodi Angel embodies this pack of low-rent, no-count, hard-luck, heart-tugging teenage boys so thoroughly that one can only conclude she was one, in this or some former lifetime. Plus, she really knows her way around a paragraph. In these stories, child support never gets paid and guns go off too often and deciding to love something almost guarantees its immediate departure or death. These are hard, wonderful, compassion-inducing stories, laced with surprising and surprisingly powerful grace notes, flashes of heat lightning in the dark."
—Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
"You Only Get Letters From Jail is one of the finest and truest collections of 'American' short stories I have ever read. Set in small towns among muscle cars and grange halls and rock and roll and damaged vets and divorced parents, Jodi Angel's stories explore in sharp and often funny prose the lives of teenagers trying their best to make sense of things in this world that, more often than not, remain inexplicable."
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time
“In these charged stories, the young narrators do not understand that they cannot afford their innocence, their tenderness, in these worlds. I was captured by the power of Jodi Angel's fresh, uninsulated prose and I read toward the secret harm in each story like a man who has heard a noise in the other room. You Only Get Letters from Jail is a gripping collection.”
—Ron Carlson, author of The Signal
“Jodi Angel’s tough and elegant stories remind me of the work of Ray Carver, Melanie Rae Thon, and Richard Ford. These are big-hearted renderings of folks struggling to find beauty in a harsh world, the pain of Angel’s characters driven into their potent desire to escape, to find mercy, to be healed. The eleven stories in You Only Get Letters from Jail are radiant with wise and powerful drama, serious, earnest, and true.”
—Alan Heathcock, author of Volt
Posted April 21, 2014
Posted April 21, 2014
Posted April 21, 2014