"Journey" is the first book of the groundbreaking coming-of-age trilogy "If Where You're Going Isn't Home," the story of a boy growing up Mormon in America with a dream to play jazz trumpet. It is the recipient of a coveted ForeWord Clarion Five Star Review.
It begins in 1956. Young Shake Tauffler hears a line of music on the radio of a cattle truck that changes his life forever. The music is jazz. The instrument is a trumpet. His family is moving one last time – from a southern Utah ranch to a town outside Salt Lake – on his father's quest to bring his family from Switzerland to the heartland of the Mormon church. In two months, when he turns twelve, he'll join his buddies on a shared journey through the ranks of his father's take-no-prisoners religion. At the same time, armed with a used trumpet and his bike, he'll start another journey, on his own, to a place whose high priests aren't his father's friends but the negro greats of jazz, men he's supposed to believe are cursed but from whose music he learns everything he dreams of being.
Shaded with Huck Finn and James Dean, Shake Tauffler is an American kid we all recognize, a kid who responds to bigotry, repression, abuse, hypocrisy, and even death with courage, humor, heartbreak, often pain, and always wonder. His rites of passage are keenly drawn and vividly familiar. But his ten-year story of growing up Mormon in America takes us to an altogether different place. "Journey," the first book of the trilogy "If Where You're Going Isn't Home," is for those of us who long to hunker down and lose ourselves in a big American story, one whose narrative canvas takes us from Switzerland to a Southern Utah ranch, to Salt Lake and its outskirts towns, into the secret holy places of the Mormon Church, across the landscapes of Nevada, California, Las Vegas, Kentucky, Austria, the Mojave Desert. Lyrical, rowdy, unflinching, "Journey" follows Shake across the first four years of his search for the clarity and flight of a trumpet line to lift him like a steel bird out from under the iron sky of his faith and guide him to sexual, moral, and musical consciousness. It is a search that resolves – for now – in startling and extraordinary tenderness.
Michael Strong, literary agent and co-founder of Zola Books, describes the book in this way:
"Max Zimmer has written The Great American Mormon Novel. For decades, readers have depended upon a few extraordinary writers to understand fully what it means to be an American – Philip Roth, Julia Alvarez, Ralph Ellison, Erica Jong, John Updike. Zimmer has added a critical new dimension to our shared national understanding of who we are and how we got here in this sweeping narrative. Twelve-year-old Shake Tauffler's decade-long journey through the Mormon Church and beyond will resonate with all Americans who ponder their soul and place in our changing national portrait."
About the Author
Among Max’s published works are poems, stories, reviews, magazine articles, short biographies, and liner notes for jazz albums. Following its nomination by Ray Carver, his first published story “Utah Died for Your Sins” was awarded the Pushcart Prize, and singled out in Rolling Stone Magazine as a raw new voice in American fiction. Max has read at venues ranging from coffee shops to SUNY writers’ conferences to the Pen New Writers Series. Jack Cady, Grace Paley, Lewis Turco, and John Gardner are among other established writers who have expressed their high regard and admiration for his work. E. L. Doctorow called Max’s writing the best he’d seen in a coast-to-coast college tour following the release of Ragtime. After meeting him on a similar tour following the publication of Falconer, John Cheever enthusiastically promoted Max’s work for the last five years of his life.
As a break from the long and ambitious project that "If Where You’re Going Isn’t Home" has been, Max still writes poetry, short fiction, and an anything-goes human interest column under the heading “Actual Mileage” – inspired by a Ray Carver story – for an automotive magazine with an audience of forty thousand readers.