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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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The Fault in Our Stars: Loving the “Crazy” in Fiction at The Nervous Breakdown

I wrote this essay about the "crazy" in fiction because people always ask me, after they read my novella "I Can Make It to California Before It's Time for Dinner" whether Jimmy Dembrowksi, the mentally challenged first-person narrator, was inspired by Lenny in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In fact, I was not thinking of Lenny at all when I wrote Jimmy, but I realized I've had a fascination with the "other" since my grade-school days:
In my seventh-grade English class, we read Daniel Keyes’ novella Flowers for Algernon, the first-person narrative of a mentally challenged janitor, Charlie, who briefly becomes a genius after undergoing an experimental procedure. It was my introduction not only to an unreliable narrator but also to one whose unusual speech patterns and perspective on the world opened to me the possibilities of the “other” in literature—whether those others were disadvantaged, culturally different, sociopathic, or just plain crazy.
To read more of the essay, go here. Also, thanks to Dean Smith and The Baltimore Review for their shout out of The Tide King in "What We're Reading":
[Michalski] has an amazing ear for language—including the use of “prolly” which is Baltimorese for “probably”—and is one of the most exciting fiction writers on the planet.
To read more, go here.