Junk City
Jon Boilard
Coming November 2020!
ISBN 978-1-60489-261-1 $19.95   Sale $11

ISBN 978-1-60489-262-8, 27.95    Sale $16

Excerpted from a review in the LAReview of Books:

IT’S HARD TO SAY why I keep reading San Francisco author Jon Boilard. The characters in his fourth work of fiction, a new short story collection, Junk City, out from Livingston Press, are mostly deadbeats and addicts. The guys drink till they black out, sleep with each other’s girlfriends, and generally manage to mess up their lives just up to, or sometimes just past, the point of redemption. And they know it. As the narrator of the first story, “Finding Albert Redwine,” says about sleeping with his best friend’s sister behind his back: “It was wrong of me yet most of what I did was wrong.”

The women, often also addicts, sometimes strippers, tend to be stronger than the men, providing a sliver of relief from what can feel, overall, like a pretty desperate environment. The guys may be irredeemable, but at least some of these gals will make it. One in particular, a stripper who goes by the name of Eskimo, hopes the poems she writes can help lift her out of her life, if she can only figure out how poets get published. A poem that is presented as Eskimo’s appears after each of the stories, like a chaser. Though Eskimo has plenty of desperation of her own.

The stories, set in San Francisco, where Boilard has lived since the 1980s, span the ’80s, ’90s, and reach almost up to the present, as evidenced by one character commenting, “Trump did fuck up the economy.” But the overriding sense is that these characters are trapped in a socioeconomic pit that’s timeless. And though you can recognize the external forces that lead them to escape into drugs and booze, it’s tempting, at times, to get fed up and wonder, “Why should I care about these characters if they don’t care about themselves?”

But here’s the thing: Boilard writes like a predator. His stories grab you by the throat in the first sentence and you have to keep reading out of self-defense. And in emailing and talking with him by phone, I realized that Boilard doesn’t really care if you like his characters. He just wants you to see them.

 For the complete interview with the aithor go to this site:  https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/dear-readers-open-your-eyes-a-conversation-with-jon-boilard/

Binding
Synopsis:

Set in San Francisco, the stories and poems in JUNK CITY are linked by characters and the characters are linked by addiction in one form or another. You’ll meet a hard-drinking mail carrier struggling to find deeper meaning when he comes across a suicide on his route; a seasoned city cop trying to make it to retirement before he ends up viral on YouTube; a teenage runaway selling his body for dope; an aging stripper named Eskimo convinced she can turn over a new leaf by getting her poetry chapbook published (and whose super-heated poems link the stories); a cross-dressing accountant running a Ponzi scheme on his clients; and a legend of the local street fighting scene whose life is spiraling out of control in a swirl of brown booze and pain pills. The characters that roam these pages live in a shadowy world, but from time to time slivers of light manage to break through the fog.

 “Boilard’s prose deftly
evokes the gritty
minimalism of Thom
Jones, Denis Johnson,
and other bards of
self-destruction and
substance abuse. . .”
—Kirkus Reviews

 

  About the Author:

Jon Boilard was born and raised in small towns in Western Massachusetts. Today he lives and writes in Northern California. His debut short story collection, SETTRIGHT ROAD (Dzanc Books/2017), was preceded by two novels, THE CASTAWAY LOUNGE (Dzanc Books/2015) and A RIVER CLOSELY WATCHED (MacAdam Cage/2013), which was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award the following year. Jon’s award-winning short stories have appeared in some of the finest literary journals in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. He has participated in the Cork International Short Story Festival in Cork, Ireland, the Wroclaw Short Story Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, and LitQuake in San Francisco, California.

  Excerpt from Book:

FINDING ALBERT REDWINE

 

I smoked crack before they called it that. This was San Francisco in the 1980s. I had a good job delivering the mail and a house that I shared with my Marine buddy Danny. We hated the Lakers more than anything and were throwing a party to celebrate another Celtics victory. Larry Bird got a triple double and he was like a god. It was mostly guys from the post office and the West Sunset basketball courts where we played pickup. There were always some pretty ladies around. I got so fucked up I couldn’t even stand.

            People were starting to leave because it was late, and it was Wednesday. Danny’s kid sister tried to pull me off the couch. Her name was Beth and sometimes I called her Betty Boop after that cartoon. She had a thing for me and so I was nailing her behind Danny’s back. It started by accident and then I couldn’t stop. If he found out, then we would have to fight. He was Golden Gloves, but I don’t know who would’ve won because I’d been in my share of scraps, too. In the Corp nobody messed with either of us.

It was wrong of me yet most of what I did was wrong. She was old enough so that it was legal but still. Danny was face down in the kitchen where he puked. Beth sneaked us into my bedroom. I begged her to leave me alone but once she took off her clothes it was all over. She had bleach-blond hair cropped short. I broke up with her last Christmas and she tried to overdose. That night in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital so they could pump her stomach she told me next time she’d do it right. I held her hand but only because I didn’t know what to say. She told me I could never leave her. After that incident the sex was always violent and exhausting and beautiful. I usually felt bad about it. She was petite and sometimes I called her the featherweight champ.

***

I was walking my route. There was that fog-haze hiding the sun a bit. I wasn’t supposed to find him. His name was Albert Redwine. His garage door was open, and I needed a signature, so I went inside. He didn’t own a dog, that much I knew. I said his name two or three times. Then he was swinging there in a little breeze. He’d used an orange extension cord looped over a ceiling beam and his face was puffy and blue, his neck swollen around the cord. I didn’t know what to make of it because I had never seen a dead person before. Not outside a funeral home. Even in the Corp we got gypped out of any action. Too young for Vietnam and too old for Bosnia. I sat on an overturned bucket, probably the one he had used to get himself into position. Jesus Christ. It really got to me.

            He didn’t leave any note in an obvious place. His mail was mostly bills and the package that required his signature was from Juneau, Alaska. It smelled like he’d shit his pants and I’d heard about how that would happen when your body shuts down. Other than that, he was tidy, and his jeans were creased in the middle. There were goose bumps on my forearms. I didn’t know what could make a person go through all the trouble. He must have had a plan. His eyes were open and looking at me as though in judgment.

***

The Lakers beat the Celtics in game four and Danny smashed the television in the street. Alejandro was wearing a Magic Johnson t-shirt and so Danny busted his lip. Somebody pulled a gun until the cops showed up and stuck Danny in the paddy wagon. Beth cleaned up the house a little. I pretended to be asleep, but she was smarter than that. I told her about finding Albert Redwine and she wondered what it felt like, so I put my hands around her neck, and I squeezed her windpipe although not too much. Beth was scared but got on top of me so I could see her emptying eyes by the trembling light of a candle.