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Emporium: Storiesby Adam Johnson
"I picked up Adam Johnson's debut collection of stories on a whim and a week later there was no doubt it was my favorite book of the year. I love when that happens....Sometimes Johnson is quick and witty, sometimes satirical, sometimes downright literary. But always, he is smart and funny and every story says something very true about the world we choose to make for ourselves." Joseph Rogers, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
"The stories in Adam Johnson's Emporium capture youth's torque, its weird braid of exhilaration and loneliness. His teenagers land in surreal circumstances: a Christian musclemen rally, a cancer-victim roadhouse blowout, a desert backyard with caged, hungry wolves. And always, they're seeking connection, definition, a good time, in the way all teenagers do. Except there's nothing humdrum here. Each of Johnson's fantasies, each peculiar landscape, glows hot with imagination." Taylor Antrim, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
The voices that inhabit Adam Johnson's debut collection are all on intimate terms with loss. Their worlds are dyed by the indigo of loneliness and the invisible ink of abandonment. Yearning for connection, all of these characters seek meaning in landscapes made uncertain by the voids where parents and lovers should be: a father searches a darkened zoo for his troubled son; in a condemned Kmart, a girl bares her bulletproof vest to the aim of her boyfriend's pistol; a physicist pines for an astronaut trapped on the moon. In other stories, a cancer victim controls a satellite, a sniper trains his scope on the girl of his dreams, and a young woman waits for an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent to kick down the doors to her heart. Through thrilling prose and fearless scenes, Johnson shows that Christian power-lifters and depressed robots are no more surreal than fathers who vanish or mothers who waste away.
"The landscape of this remarkable début collection of stories is built on hard-edged nouns like Kevlar, Futron, plutonium, and dyno-burner, but its real subject is the loneliness of youth, the failure of parents, and the yearning for connection." New Yorker
"[A] distinctive new fictional sensibility. Johnson displays an impressive range of unusual and in some cases fantastical situations and characters, some of whose lives sometimes reveal disturbing disconnections in progress." Booklist
"A collection worth owning...a writer worth watching...stories worth reading." New York Times Book Review
"Johnson's unique premises, hybrids of realism and allegory, blends of pedestrian, pop, and the bizarre, create unnerving moods....Certainly a vision that should be put under close surveillance." Kirkus Reviews
Through thrilling prose and fearless scenes, Johnson shows that Christian power-lifters and depressed robots are no more surreal than fathers who vanish or mothers who waste away.
An ATF raid, a moonshot gone wrong, a busload of female cancer victims determined to live life to the fullest--these are the compelling terrains Adam Johnson explores in his electrifying debut collection. A lovesick teenage Cajun girl, a gay Canadian astrophysicist, a teenage sniper on the LAPD payroll, a post-apocalyptic bulletproof-vest salesman-each seeks connection and meaning in landscapes made uncertain by the voids that parents and lovers should fill. With imaginative grace and verbal acuity, Johnson is satirical without being cold, clever without being cloying, and heartbreaking without being sentimental. He shreds the veneer of our media-saturated, self-help society, revealing the lonely isolation that binds us all together.
About the Author
Adam Johnson is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, Harper's, Paris Review, as well as Best New American Voices. He is currently working on his first novel.
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