Best Book (Fiction)
'Knockout' by John Jodzio
John Jodzio’s short-story collection Knockout pulls no punches. Writing primarily through a first-person point of view, Jodzio lets readers climb into the minds of some seriously disturbed characters in unusual situations: Two dudes fresh out of rehab figure out how to pinch animals unconscious for fun and profit. A family-owned opium den struggles to stay in business when the Opium Depot opens nearby. A grieving man contemplates buying a sex chair from his late mistress’ husband at a garage sale. Jodzio unapologetically spins these bizarre stories that somehow seem plausible — if only in an alternate, whacked version of the universe. While this isn’t Jodzio’s first go-round with publishing short story collections (2010’s If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home and 2011’s Get In If You Want to Live are equally entertaining), Knockout was the first of his tomes to catch the attention of the New York Times, and the reviewer thoroughly enjoyed it.