New Paperback Fiction: Love and Other Wounds – Jordan Harper

Booksellers gave me a name for the kind of muscular, brutal, beautiful stories that make up this collection: “dirty realism.” (Thank you, Joseph-Beth, Cincinnati!) When I picked this collection up, I thought I’d just dip in and read one story to get a feel for the writing. I ended up tearing through the whole collection in one sitting. The ultimate effect was a little like binge-watching Breaking Bad–you end up feeling jumpy, electrified and wondering if there can be too much of good thing. 🙂

Author Jordan Harper is a screenwriter and indeed these stories have a cinematic intensity. These crime stories are both pulpy and literary; you’ll recognize the losers, the sad sacks and the violence. What you might not recognize is seeing so profoundly into these guys’ hearts. Rumor is we’ve got a novel coming from him in 2017. Can’t wait.

What sets Harper apart is his ability to deliver genuine literary epiphanies…Harper delivers tension, action, black humor, sex, and violence-but, above all, characters we quickly know, understand, and still remember even after their brains have painted the walls.”

“Each one of the stories in Harper’s slim debut collection goes off like a shotgun blast of crime fiction tropes: convicts, skinheads, meth mouths, dog fights, crooked cops, barflies, and botched robberies. Doomed men and desperate women paint themselves into increasingly tight corners, where the only choice left is to come out shooting, like a hillbilly Butch Cassidy…. the entire collection is a tight, tough parcel of pulpy, high-octane tales.”
— Publishers Weekly

 Raw, gritty, and unsettling, the stories in Harper’s debut collection feature tough lives lived mostly on the edge, from John, running through bullets and high-desert wildfire from his own freshly dug grave; to Mark, cut down in a firefight with the cops after robbing a gas station; to Palmer, determined to save Lucy, severely injured in a dog-fighting ring. VERDICT: As he runs, John’s mouth ‘felt full of hot pennies,’ and every story here is a hot penny worth much more. For fans of Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell, and Bruce Machart.”
 — Library Journal

“Criminals, lowlifes, and losers—many of them also quixotic romantics—people Harper’s first collection of short stories, which are set mostly in the Ozarks with side trips to cities like Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Detroit. In the opener, ‘Agua Dulce,’ a meth addict’s debt comes due and he realizes how far he’ll go to protect his child from his merciless dealer and his cronies in Aryan Steel, a group that makes the Aryan Nation look mild. Ironically, in a later story, ‘Heart Check,’ a new prison inmate and Steel wannabe, recently convicted of killing a child, discovers that he may have misunderstood the Steel code. But in none of these stories is the moral code exactly mainstream….Bottom-line survival competes hard against issues of loyalty, friendship, and family….”
Kirkus Reviews

 “Wow. I just know whatever I say cannot amount to the poignancy and pulp that Harper injects into his stories. I can’t give proper justice to the characters whose lives, while bordering on hyper-reality, are intimately relatable. His choice of subjects (which usually operate on the periphery of society) only contributes to the general gritty tone of the collection. The wonderful language paired with the ultra-violent segments of the book can make you grit your teeth, and when I grit mine I could swear I felt a grain of sand.”
— Patrick Burchett, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Love and Other Wounds (9780062394385) Jordan Harper. $15.99 trade paper original. 7/7/15 on sale.

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