"Jodi Angel's first collection of fiction, "The History of Vegas," is a promising beginning and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Though the title may bring to mind the opulent Las Vegas of yesteryear, that vision is only the backdrop to a grittier, almost film noir present, where only aging gangsters remember the good old days.
These 10 stories are mostly populated by street-smart adolescents trapped in a continual "now," but no matter how smart they are, they lack the experience needed to keep them from being devoured by a hungry, heartless world.
In essence, Angel is writing a kind of abbreviated naturalism, the kind of fiction that writers like Raymond Carver and Larry Brown honed to perfection. Angel excels at it as well, whether the setting is the urban jungle of Las Vegas, the dirt roads of the lonely, expansive West or even the seemingly placid suburbs. " -San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"This precarious world is putty in Jodi Angel's nimble hands. Really bad parenting lurks in the corners of most of these stark stories, the kind that makes clever survivors out of innocent children. In "Portions," a teenager serves as substitute mother to her grossly overweight little sister, who is threatened with suspension from school if she does not show up for swim class. Rather than solve the problem in an adult way, big sister teaches her sibling the fine art of binging and purging.
In "The History of Vegas," a 17-year-old boy is caught in the middle when his mother lures her sister away from a violent husband. In Angel's world, children are frequently used as human shields white flags of purity held up as a last defense against completely sordid lives. Several stories have coffee cans filled with life savings or next month's rent lurking in the corner. They inevitably end up empty, and not for the right reasons. Angel's metaphors are often the only tentative details that tether her characters to the real world: "I felt Husso's hand slide off my back like a fish sinking from the surface of a pond," thinks a character in "Supplement. "There were clouds stacking up against the mountains and the sky had dulled." The future, according to Jodi Angel, does not often look possible, much less bright." -Los Angeles Times Book Review
Angel's tales are, each and every one, brutal kicks to the gut, harsh and voyeuristic reminders that the world is a messed-up and dangerous place where even the absolutions of youth offer little sanctuary. -San Diego Union-Tribune