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reviews

Exploring Hellscapes and Grotesque Pathos 

By Zachary Alapi 

A Review of J.R. Helton’s Bad Jobs and Poor Decisions

J.R. Helton’s Bad Jobs and Poor Decisions (Liverlight 2018) accomplishes a unique feat: the weaving of social universality and cultural specificity. For Helton, that means a raw exploration of class, the most pressing and relevant issue we face, couched in the sounds and sights of 1980s Austin — the music, the drugs, the hustlers, and the grandiosity and pomp that only a state like Texas, in all its carnivalesque glory, can render both thrilling and morbid. As readers follow Jake Stewart, a burgeoning artist bent as much on self-destruction as producing great writing or visual art, as he navigates the bloated landscape of Ronald Reagan’s America. An undertone of paranoia and stasis infuses this wry and dark book with urgency and energy that even readers disconnected from the setting and era can feel. 

Literary Edens

Songs That Remind Us of Factories, Danny Jacobs. Nightwood, 2013

Album of Serenity

Reading Roo Borson's new collection is like leafing through a writer's notebook.

A Poet's Eye

Ruzesky says he has been obsessed with Amundsen's South Pole expedition since childhood.

Archive Fever

It's intriguing to come upon a work of fiction that confirms an idea you've had for a long time but had never really articulated.

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