Citizen Review: If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home

Critics love John Jodzio’s short stories, but what does your average M&Q customer think? Wonder no more. Here is the dependable Ben Paulson with a Citizen Review of Jodzio’s first book.

If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home
John Jodzio’s If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home is that special kind of book that makes you want to seize the person nearest you by their lapels and thrust the book in their waiting hands, only allowing their escape after staring deeply into their eyes and pleading, “Read this as soon as possible.” Yes, it’s that kind of book. Jodzio, a Minneapolis resident and short fiction writer, has been featured in McSweeney’s, Rake Magazine, MnArts Magazine, and numerous online publications. If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home, his first published collection, is also the first book published by Saint Paul’s promising Replacement Press. As might be expected, the release of this book is an exciting occasion for everyone involved, not the least of which should be local bibliophiles. If you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to get in on this blossoming homegrown literary scene, and Jodzio’s rich collection of short fiction is a rewarding place to start.

Comprised of 21 short stories, If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home is a wonderful look into a strange new world, one explored through the offbeat and bizarre lives of its characters. Though the stories vary greatly in length and subject, they share a combined sense of hopeful melancholia and bleak humor. These works range from an absurdist sketch of a baby that won’t stop eating everything in its sight, including a ninja star (“Inventory”); to the story of a disappointed couple trying to reason with a group of clamorous street musicians (“Shoo, Shoo”); to a poignantly painful tale of two adolescent boys urinating through mail slots (“If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home”). Jodzio’s writing should seem alien and ridiculous, but, more often than not, the effusive longing and sardonic humor of his characters are disarmingly familiar. These characters spiral through their lives, trying to create unity in their fleeting and fragmented universes. Jodzio’s stories ache tangibly, and they are not as foreign as they seem. If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home testifies that the only thing separating you from these characters is simply that you are not them and they are not you. But just barely. Please read this book as soon as possible.

Ben Paulson lives in St. Paul, where he obsesses about books, zombies and breakfasts.

Join us for a launch party for If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Friday, March 19, at 7:30pm. Details are here.