A fresh take on the Bukowskian milieu of dirtbags, drunks, and drifters is rare, but Joshua Mohr accomplished it with his debut novel, Some Things That Meant the World to Me. More improbably, O, The Oprah Magazine named it one of the best books of the year. Credit Mohr's voice for bridging these two seemingly irreconcilable extremes. His language is propulsive, raw, and sympathetic without being overly sentimental. Documenting the late-night denizens of the Mission's nastier sidewalks, he reveals an intimate awareness of the city's underbelly: It's a hard-won, firsthand understanding of his subject matter. He continues to explore this world with his latest novel, Termite Parade, which opens with a gauntlet-throwing first line: "There were days when I felt like the bastard daughter of a ménage à trois with Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Sylvia Plath, and Eeyore. So states the novel's protagonist, Mired, a drunk thrown down a flight of stairs by her boyfriend, Derek, who lies to her about the cause of the fall. Termite Parade, which Mohr reads from at tonights release party, follows three narrators: Mired, who believes she fell because of her drunkenness; Derek, who is wracked with guilt and convinced that termites are consuming his nervous system; and his estranged brother Frank, who knows the truth. Mohr's insistent prose propels the novel's surreal investigation of guilt, love, and duplicity.
Tue., July 6, 7 p.m., 2010