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Gristle: Weird Tales


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"Jordan Rothacker might be a modern-day prophet. In Gristle, the stories are like parables. One of the stories, 'Parables Three, ' is just this. These stories set the tone for the entire collection, with a magician selling potions he doesn't believe in. In another story, Rothacker writes, 'The body of the town has decayed with the weight of such time and tempest that no real discerning marks remain.' This collection portrays the sometimes grim reality of modernity, and how technology has further separated us from our humanity, our ability to be empathetic and kind toward others. The interactions, and failures, of the characters illustrate this, and the lack of true communication. It's like the humans in this collection are all passing ships in the night that never pass through each other. The magic-realist settings of the stories allow us to hop from witnessing a burning corpse in Georgia, to a doctor's office, 1945 China, ghosts, Catholicism, sex, and ordinary life. The conversational, image-rich narratives will dive you straight into other worlds full of truths. The book explores sexual and gender dynamics in ways that feel honest and don't dress up the reality of the story, but asks the right questions about how and why people interact with each other the way they do. Hopefully, the book will ask these questions and you'll try to find the answers, like a person a long, long journey to self-discovery." --Joanna C. Valente
"Jordan A. Rothacker's Gristle reads like episodes of The Twilight Zone if written by Krzysztof Kieslowski. There are moments that we think of as ordinary, detailing loneliness, intellectual frustration, unrequited love. But there is a spark of something in them, whether you want to call it divinity or magic, that brings a notion to the human condition, that these moments are not to be let to pass without knowing their weight. They are quiet, but not ordinary." --Pam Jones
"Jordan Rothacker's Gristle oscillates between the quaint and the darker impulses of life. Thematically, these short stories tackle the subjects of violence, sexuality, politics, and work. But each plays out in a different style, ranging from realism to parables to gothic ghost stories. The overall effect is a new bohemian voice that is somewhat nostalgic for a post-adolescence that celebrates art, chases sex, and delights in life on the periphery. Yet the authorial voice--with astute diction and controlling cadence--doesn't romanticize this stage of life. These stories exist in an uncanny valley. This contrast and range is why I will return to reread this book. It progresses like a tasting menu at a gourmet restaurant, with the author peaking out from the kitchen to watch the readers react and respond to this engineered experience." --Jacob Singer"I enjoyed these stories, I read them on my coffee breaks at a doomed oil refinery in NJ. Each story made me laugh, and often caught me by surprise. Rothacker took me up into the clouds to somewhere good and true and beautiful, far far away from my own troubled reality. I'll be sure to go back and revisit the world of Gristle when I'm miserable again." --Bud Smith

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