Just saw a new reader review of my book posted on Amazon, and though Secrets and Lies has gotten nothing but 5-star rankings, I wanted to share because this may be the best review yet.
A lot of times something that is “independent” can be seen as garbage. An unsigned band, a low budget movie….after all, if this book was that great, why wouldn’t it have a major publisher behind it?
Josh Gross blows this line of thinking out of the water with “Secrets and Lies.” A culmination of short stories that bounce between hipster cliches and broken dreams; this collection runs from one emotional extremity to the next, with no regard for reader comfort. And it’s this dangerous style of writing that turns the “corporate book publishing machine” off…..this book at times is an uncomfortable and unstable read. And that’s what makes it amazing.
After all, this is not a set of stories that end with a happy ending. This is not a children’s book where the villains are served their just desserts. These are not fables where the hero gets the girl and we learn a lesson. These stories showcase the heartbreak of life and young adulthood – and are deeply personal snapshots of a generation struggling to define themselves.
Let’s all thank Josh for creating a stimulating and honest work; as we already have a culture drowning in mindless fluff and escapism.
All I can say is wow. Maybe it is not a very writerly response, but still, wow. I continue to be grateful for the kind things people have said about my work and for the opportunity to create work that can inspire that sort of reaction. And you know, wow.
Scenes From a Karaoke Bar
The Billboard Astrology Charts
Brooke sings Fight For Your Right to Party, by The Beastie Boys. She manages to do it badly, even for a song that demands so little of a karaoke singer. It’s likely because her focus is more on posturing: A fist in the air, a heavy-footed strut, thrusting her breasts forward to empathize the word fight for the glassy-eyed stoners playing pool…
My friend Andrea’s birthday was on Memorial Day. So, for her party, she had a funereal,
and asked me to deliver a eulogy. This was my speech.
I see a lot of different faces here today. Some I know, some I don’t. But what I do know is that we’re all here to remember the life of Andrea Dimas, and that you’re all probably here to do so for the same reason I am: you fucked her.
The truth you all know as well as I do, is that it was sometimes difficult to be her friend. She wore her attitude like a badge, and started fights constantly. Being Andrea’s friend carried with it a good chance of being punched in the face. That’s why, though it was a shock, it didn’t really come as a surprise to find out she was mauled by a tiger.
Anyone who knew her was confident that she probably started it, and got what she had coming. There are some things you just don’t say to tigers and expect to walk away from the experience.
Still, it’s always sad to see a life cut short. Andrea may have accomplished many of her life goals, things like, “having a lot of clothes,” “seeing Slayer live,”and “becoming chemically dependent on alcohol,” but she left even more undone. As a child Andrea dreamed of being a supermodel, or a genius. In college, she decided to become an entrepreneur instead. She wanted to start a business printing a book that listed the phone numbers of every person and business in town. When told it already existed, she returned to her original dream of being a genius. But sadly, now that she’s been crushed by a zeppelin, that dream will never be realized.
A lot of words have been used to describe Andrea since her demise. Words like, ditzy, hipster, and psycho-bitch. Oh, sorry, I read that wrong. That’s psycho-MEGA-bitch.
But the word I feel really says it all, is fake. Fakeness was the core of her being. Her hair color was every bit as fake as her promise to be there in the morning. In fact, her fakeness was her most sincere quality. And since she drowned in that vat of mayonnaise, I have missed it dearly. At least, that’s what I’d say to her face.
Friendship is really all about choices. And there’s an old saying that describes these choices well. They say that “you can pick you friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” That was especially true with Andrea because she had nose herpies. How she got them, I’ve never been clear on—I wasn’t there that night—but as I look out at all of your faces, at this grieving crowd of her closest acquaintances and one-night stands, I know that if Andrea were here today, instead of dead from a case of “really bad gas,” every one of you would gladly pick her nose. And eat it.
So to Andrea, genius, slut, carrier of the nose-plague, regardless of how people choose to remember you, you will not be forgotten. Unless of course, there are Jager shots involved, or you bring a hot friend.