The Rest of Us

Fiction by John Mauk

Paperback: 175 pages
Publisher: Black Lawrence Press (September 15, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1625579136
ISBN-13: 978-1625579133

John Mauk’s stories are filled with magic, violence, and wisdom. Among the blessed and the cursed, the drunks and the perverts, you will meet a girl who can fly, a belligerent priest, and the son of a witch. There’s something organic and essential, even inevitable, about these oddly-shaped stories; it’s as though they might have written themselves. The community opinion always matters here, as do the small-town values of hospitality and tolerance. In the words of one of Mauk’s narrators, “Everyday life churns out a rich perfume… The breath of every person, plant, and animal marries together, works its way upward.” —Bonnie Jo Campbell

If Lewis Nordan and Flannery O’Connor had a baby, he would be John Mauk. Early on in Mauk’s story “The Insult Comic,” the narrator proclaims, “You can’t surf on corn.” I’m here to tell you that John Mauk can surf on corn. Each unfathomable story will lead you to believe, to believe despite your logic telling you, No. Can’t be. Can’t happen. Mauk gives us a world you will find only here, only here until you set the book aside and go for a walk. Then you will begin to feel his world surrounding you. You will wonder if maybe, just maybe, what you have read has been there all along, just down the street, in aisle three at the market, or up there in that house at the top of the hill. In “The Blessed,” the narrator’s mother says that when a leaf releases its scent into the air, the whole world changes. When you read these joyfully unnerving stories that will happen for you—their scent will change your whole world—and you will be grateful. —Jack Ridl