Release Date: August 15, 2021
Alexander Shalom Joseph’s American Wasteland is a collection of stories about the contemporary day-to-day in America. It is said in the Talmud that one job of certain Jews is to justify the existence of humanity to God; in this collection, Joseph attempts to do just this with his stories, which speak to the everyday mundane and the vast richness in both meaning and meaninglessness that abound all around us. In one story a recent divorcee tries to find meaning on the Fourth of July but ends up stuck in traffic. In another a suburban man unhappy with his life becomes obsessed with washing his car at a twenty four hour car wash in his neighborhood. In another young woman recollects her childhood with a single mother and how they used to paint their nails and eat breakfast together. In yet another a single person suffers through a dinner party at which they are the fifth wheel. These stories, vivid in detail, portray a stagnant land full of longing. They present a portrait of a country full of millions of lost people, trying to make sense of a world which can seem both crushing and light at the same time.
American Wasteland: Stories by Alexander Shalom Joseph
It’s said in the Talmud that there are three ways to be a good Jew: study, prayer and acts of loving kindness– Alexander Shalom Joseph thinks of his writing and work as a teacher as a mix of all three. Alexander’s poetry chapbook, Buttons and Bones, was published by above/ground press in 2021. His novels and short stories have been short listed/finalists/or semi-finalists in the 2021 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize in Fiction, the 2020 Orison Fiction prize, the 2020 Paper Nautilus Chapbook Prize, and the 2020, 2019 and 2018 Faulkner Awards for a “Novel in Progress,” have been published by Tulip Tree Press, Witty Partition, Zodiac Magazine, Lotus Eater Magazine, Bombay Gin and in Clover: A Literary Rag, and have received four honorable mentions in New Writer Competitions for Glimmer Train Magazine. His poetry has appeared in Blaze Vox, Boomer Lit Mag and in Dusie’s Tuesday poems. Alexander is the host of the podcast of American Wasteland, and writes a weekly prose poetry column in The Mountain Ear Newspaper in Nederland, Colorado. Alexander has an MFA from The Jack Kerouac School, and lives in a cabin in the woods of Colorado with his girlfriend and hundreds of books.
Alexander Shalom Joseph unflinchingly details the myriad micro-tragedies that make up our American Wasteland. Many of the stories in this debut collection are intense, at times hypnotic meditations on psychic loss rendered in highly attuned language. In the deeply familiar, yet disconcerting world the author narrates, our vanities and repetitive gestures alone remain to tell of our humanity.
—Eric Darton, author of Free City
Alexander Shalom Joseph has read the love-letters traded between certainty and insecurity. These stories interrogate the differing pacts we make with the world we touch and the thoughts we come to trust.
—Christopher David Rosales, author of Word is a Bone, winner of the International Latino Book Award
In American Wasteland, Joseph shines a kaleidoscopic light on the mundane until it fractures into the unexpected.”
—Rachel Weaver, author of Point of Direction