May 20, 2009

Somethings That Meant The World To Me

I am very excited to be writing about a book just released by a good friend of mine. Josh and I worked together in several restaurants in San Francisco in the late 1990's. It is enough to say that we had some great times and that we that got into our share of trouble. It is also important to say that Josh is one of the most talented people I have ever met. Please support a fresh, young new voice in literature and read Somethings That Meant The World To Me. You will not be disappointed!

My review:

In his brutally candid debut novel, Joshua Mohr creates a hauntingly detailed, beautiful yet wretched world familiar to every loser/saint trying to escape his or her downward spiral.

The carefully crafted prose leaves the reading hanging on every word, allowing the narrative to read like a series of tight flash fiction pieces, rather than a novel which can so often get bogged down by the weight of its plot. The short chapters, like snapshots, ultimately come together to create the complete story. Even while the characters wallow in their pain, shame, and darkness, Mohr’s voice maintains a stubborn perseverance that forces the reader to care about each of them.

In the spirit of downtrodden heroes ala Elliott Smith and Charles Bukowski, we follow the main character, Rhonda, down his path of near misses and ultimate failures. At every turn we are left hoping that he will succeed, knowing that his self-destructive behavior will never allow him redemption.

Flip-flopping between the present and flashbacks to Rhonda’s childhood abuse and subsequent therapy, Mohr painstakingly creates scene after scene where even, “emptiness can suffocate you,“ while a series of seemingly shallow characters, slowly gain depth as the plot unfolds.

Although Mohr confesses that, “sometimes things are so black they are more than a color; they are a place, a lonely solar system,” there is an element of hope hidden in his words, literally buried at the bottom of a dumpster, which forces the reader not to give up on Rhonda. By the time Rhonda confesses to being, “tired of being obliterated,” the reader is left to ponder whether or not Rhonda will find happiness.

Read Josh's article at The Rumpus about being published.

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