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“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares


“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant


“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus


“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction


“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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Losing My Religion

I had a dream last night that I went to church with my family for the first time in years. The pastor played the Replacements, REM, and the Church instead of hymns. I guess that's about right, since those bands were my religion growing up in the late 1980s. Although I've had other bands fill in the religion part over the years (Throwing Muses, Sleater-Kinney, Miles Davis, Sloan), I never did find religion to fill in my religion. Since rejecting Catholicism, I've halfheartedly dabbled in Buddhism, and after a month of terrible losses, I often wish I had the comfort of some sort of belief system. And yet, I just can't jump, blind faith, into something. But I wish I felt as strongly about religion as I used to about music, how I always do about writing.

I think it's even a greater loss than religion I'm feeling, though—I'm feeling a loss of the promise of my youth, when I sat in my room at night listening to "Pleased to Meet Me" or "Starfish" or "House Tornado," excited that I would be going to college soon and my world would open and that I would do great things (at that time, I wanted to be a doctor more than a writer—I guess I knew where the job security was!). There's still promise in the world for me, but nothing beats that feeling when you're going up that first big hill on the rollercoaster.

I think the church I chose would have to play the Replacements, REM, and the Church. And serve chewing gum instead of a Eucharist. Our hymn would come right from Paul Westerberg himself: "Sitting in a pew/Well ain't we the chosen few/Might not help, but it can't hurt/On a little date to church." Donations? Of course we'll make them. How else is our pastor going to pay for our chewing gum?