In this debut collection of experimental short fiction, John Madera explores the complexities of identity, memory, history, and language, revealing the heterogeneities and instabilities that distinguish the post-industrial world. Born of diaspora and transversalism, the fourteen stories in Nervosities exhibit narrative modes and voices that converge on our ever-evolving culture of violence, mediatization, and fragmentation. Ultimately, these fictions enact a realization of what Deleuze and Guattari (via Antonin Artaud) call “the cancerous body of America, the body of war and money.” Reading Nervosities is at once a journey to an alternate universe and an uncanny chronicle of all-too-familiar terrain.
JOHN MADERA’s fiction has been published in Conjunctions, Hobart, Salt Hill, Sleepingfish, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many others, while his criticism has appeared in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. A recipient of an M.F.A. from Brown University as well as two grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, Madera lives in New York City, where he serves as editor-in-chief of Big Other and runs the literary publicity company Rhizomatic.
"A spirited shake-up of language and expectations, Nervosities nails our unmoored reality with humor, attentiveness, and a bountiful imagination." —RIKKI DUCORNET, author of Netsuke, Brightfellow, Trafik: A Novel and The Plotinus
"John Madera’s variety-pack of fictions display a stunning range of modes, registers, rhythms and acoustical flourishes. But these excursions into the wilds of sound and image aren’t undertaken for the sake of virtuosity alone. They are each of them honest and passionate quests for reality, for life on the page." —SAM LIPSYTE, author of No One Left to Come Looking for You and The Ask
"A first book? Really? It’s almost impossible to believe, considering how astonishing Nervosities is. What I love about these stories is how they couple a commitment to language and maximalist literary endeavor with a sensibility that is politically aware, engaged, and radical. From razor-sharp approaches to immigration to explorations of the vagaries and struggles of relationships, these are virtuoso pieces that are, nevertheless, decisively human. Like John Keene’s Counternarratives, Nervosities is a complex and compelling book." —BRIAN EVENSON, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World and Burning Floor of Hell
"A total-immersion catastrophe theme park comprised of fierce cosmopolitan intelligence, heterodox sentences, and deranged forms, John Madera’s Nervosities evinces a beautiful rage before our whirled world in which there is always a bomb secreted a couple feet away, the timer ticking down. Listen: a rare new fiery presence has just landed in the literary jungle." —LANCE OLSEN, author of My Red Heaven and Always Crashing in the Same Car: A Novel After David Bowie
"Borges asks us to imagine maps more detailed than the things they represent. John Madera, mad Mercator that he is, gives us, in the gyrating GPS that is Nervosities, a whole atlas of super-saturated jazzed and jazzy tympanically tsk-tsking texts. Verving veneers, swerving stories like laminated anatomies that peal and peel, fox and flex their way through the advanced math of the Four-Color Theorem. These fictions zoom. They scale and scald, flay and flux. Walls of words, they do tip-top topo cartography of every thing’s everything … and more." —MICHAEL MARTONE, author of Plain Air: Sketches from Winesburg, Indiana and The Complete Writings of Art Smith
"The fourteen sententially ambitious and masterly entries in Nervosities introduce us to a bold and startling new force in American fiction. John Madera is a learned and scathingly observant chronicler of our turmoil, and his prose is some of the most robust, ruckussing, and gravely brilliant I have read in ages." —GARIELLE LUTZ, author of Stories in the Worst Way and I Looked Alive
"In a literary landscape in which originality is often spoken of but seldom truly delivered, John Madera is the exception—an uncompromising writer and thinker whose singular vision is, indeed, his North Star. Linguistically rich, formally challenging, and intellectually intoxicating, Nervosities reads like the work of a mad genius torn between saving the world of letters and watching it burn." —KURT BAUMEISTER, author of Twilight of the Gods and Pax Americana
"Mining the zeitgeist, John Madera’s Nervosities deeply explores characters on the periphery of recent and sometimes catastrophic historic events. Here sentential torrents attack conventional narrative form, riffing on themes, placing well-chosen details, like a commanding jazz solo. Like the characters in Nervosities—each one trapped in a kind of mental Hall of Mirrors—readers of this book will be compelled to ask themselves, Who am I and why am I here?" —YRIK-MAX VALENTONIS, author of 120 Days of Gomorrah and Cranium Theatre