This is the final post in a week-long miniseries celebrating National Short Story Month. Our final featured collection is Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son.
The first time I read this story, “Work,” its first lines stopped me, caught me off guard, bade me to re-read. I liked its directness and was immediately intrigued by the world Johnson was describing. Jesus’ Son was assigned reading for a creative writing course I was taking in college. Inspired by the way in which Johnson juxtaposes the raw with the strikingly poetic and surreal, I decided I too would write about the underbelly of the town where I grew up. Unfortunately, my fixation on my first love and cliché inclination towards all things sentimental—and absence of any serious drug addiction—resulted in terrible short stories that paled in comparison to the source of their inspiration. I still think Johnson does it best.