(Image Above: hollygoddardjones.com)
By guest writer: Jennifer Luebbers
After graduating last May, I found myself beset by a predicament equal parts terrifying and thrilling. For the first time in a very long time, I was in charge of my own reading list. While I was at first hopelessly lost without the structure of a syllabus, it wasn’t long before I realized I could read anything I wanted! And while I love most of the literature I’ve read for class deeply and reverently, I’ve always felt as though I had to rush to finish books – that I could never appreciate them as completely and intensely as they deserved. Now, the knowledge that I could let a book last as long and luxuriously as I wanted felt deliciously freeing.
“Girl Trouble,” a collection of short stories by Holly Goddard Jones, has most recently absorbed my complete attention. Set in the small town of Roma, Kentucky, these eight stories in Jones’ debut collection (just released in September) are populated with complex, utterly human characters. In each story, Jones miraculously manages to treat the parents, children, and lovers forced to make difficult decisions with honesty, intelligence, and empathy. Two of the most powerful and haunting stories in the collection chronicle the rape and murder of a young woman – one is told from the point of view of the girl’s mother, while the other is told from the murderer’s point of view. Through these parallel, contradictory accounts, Jones manages to reveal the consciences of these intelligently-wrought characters through nuances and subtleties that blur the line between morality and immorality. Somehow, through loss and loneliness, Jones uses her resonant, rarely-paralleled prose to sustain a pervasive, redeeming hope.
Holly Goddard Jones was born and raised in western Kentucky and currently teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at UNC-Greensboro. Her work first appeared in the “New Stories from the South” in both 2007 and 2008, the “Best American Mystery Stories 2008,” and various literary journals. You can visit her website and blog here.
Even if you are currently up to your eyeballs in other required texts, make sure you put this book on your reading wish list. Happy Reading, ModLovers!