Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Victor Lodato’s “Jack, July” was originally published in the September 22, 2014 issue of The New Yorker.

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Back in 2012, I read Victor Lodato’s “P.E.” (here), and put that I hoped to see more of his work. I can’t say I remember “P.E.” much, or my wish to read more Lodato, but I’ll trust my younger self and get to this one soon. In the meantime, please post thoughts below.

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By |2014-09-15T12:38:56-04:00September 15th, 2014|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Victor Lodato|6 Comments


  1. lotusgreen September 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Well, this is a little intimidating, being the first; I already feel a bit like an interloper. But….

    Though my temporal perception was off, I felt, on reading, “Jack, July,” that I had just heard that speedy, drug-fueled voice, and this was all too soon to hear it again. Imagine my surprise to check and find that “Wagner in the Desert,” by Greg Jackson, was all the way back in July; it still reverberated in my ears.

    From Jackson’s story, “She played with my hair while she talked, and I tried to think up one grammatical sentence that would indicate that I was still a human being. The only recognizable thought among the debris in my mind, however, was the sudden overpowering desire to have sex, and this wasn’t even a thought as such. If I had been in any state to speak, let alone make an argument, I would have brought a Christian martyr’s passion to the task of getting Lily receptive, but all I managed to say, interrupting her arbitrarily to say it, was ‘I’m very stoned.'”

    From Lodato’s, “Walking was what he needed, and to hell with the sun. That’s what people in his position did. They walked, they moved, they got things done. Sitting was no good. Talking was fine, if you had someone. Sex was primal. Jack’s body knew the rules. There were any number of ways to keep one’s brain from exploding.”

    Not to mention poor Jenkins in McGuane’s “Motherlode.”

    Don’t misunderstand me; the language in each is stunning. But enough already with the virtual suicides roaming the planet. Perhaps it’s the mirror held up to “how it is now” that I find so disturbing, but is this really “how it is now”?…. Don’t go looking for me — I’m off to bury my head in a bag of Oxycontin, or some other friendly killer of pain.

  2. Greg September 23, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Thanks lotusgreen for your thoughts above! I get what you are saying about “virtual suicides”. This reminds me of how Rock music turned depressing in the 90s with Grunge…..however, I loved the author’s interview with the New Yorker. He called fiction the ‘ultimate virtual reality’ as we come to love and become the characters, and he explained how in only fiction we learn the private inner thoughts of other people…..I will remember these points the next time I am thinking of doing something superficial instead of reading an enriching novel.

  3. lotusgreen September 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks Greg. Are you saying that you do superficial things instead of reading enriching novels? In that case I’m not sure I should deign to form a response… However… I should go read that interview, and thanks for the reminder. That point, the inner voice, is interesting. Coincidentally, in “The Emerald Light in the Air,” which I just read yesterday, it struck me that the author had really captured the nature of thought, the false appearance of chaos or randomness in the stream of consciousness.

  4. juliemcl October 1, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I loved this story. Loved it. And the Q&A is well worth reading too. Lodato explains how he sees characters like this all around Tucson, in the Safeway or wherever and also sees how other people in the Safeway look at or react to them. You have to have such a sense of empathy to write something like this. I often see people out and about and wonder about them, too. I can think of a few who might make a good short story. Lodato has definitely delivered on that premise. Such a great rendering of Tucson as a place, too – the heat, the light, the foliage, the people. I think I’m going to go back and re-read “P.E.” and maybe check out his novel from 5 years ago ‘Mathilda Savitch’.

    Oh, and just to address what lotusgreen says about the drug-fueled voice being similar to the Jackson story… Yes, in a way it is, I thought of that story too, but those kids in the Jackson story were privileged and not really walking suicides. You got the sense that life could really open up for them and that in five years they could be ruling the world, which, you know -kind of scary. This kid has been dealt a different hand and life appears to be closing in on him. It was heartbreaking.

  5. lotusgreen October 1, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Yes indeed, juliemcl. Thanks for clarifying that.

  6. Ken November 11, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I have a particular fascination with drugalogues, so I’m not completely objective. I found this riveting and not only a great depiction of Tucson (a city I’ve visited) but of the desperate and overdriven state of drug mania. Objectively, I would say this a bit repetitive and too long and after a while I was wondering if something was going to change. At that point, I thought the flashback/backstory was well placed and, per my comments about the Danielle McLaughlin story, “just right.” I thought Wagner in the Desert was more complex and multi-faceted. This, in contrast, is a bit repetitive yet very specifically nails down a subject which might not be of interest to every reader.

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