The Millions

A World without Adults: The Millions Interviews Jeff Jackson

Since 2014, when Jeff Jackson and I roamed the AWP Writers Conference together, I’ve read everything he’s written—that I know of, anyway. Jeff’s style is a grab bag of tricks from the journalist, the diarist, the theorist, the historian, and the artist of high letters. The beauty of his work lies in that he can range so wide, plunge so deep, and roar so high, and still be not merely readable but compulsively, achingly sensitive.

To my great pleasure, his latest offering, Destroy All Monsters, has been hailed pretty much across the board for the brilliantly dangerous book it is. The New York Times calls it “a wild roar of a novel” that is “predatory and seductive.” The Los Angeles Times says it is “formally complex, experimental, poetic, puzzling … beautifully written and just plain daring.” NPR notes that the work “forces readers to ask all the right questions … while telling them a beautiful truth,” and, that, with a nod to Led Zeppelin, that hierophant of sex and drugs and rock and roll, it’s “the bustle in your hedgerow.” And yet few of the notices I’ve seen range much past the novel’s patent focus on gun violence and music, nor, really, do any of the novel’s blurbs, wonderful as they are.

The “epidemic” of killings that lies at the core of the narrative, where we see musicians of every stripe murdered as they perform, is to my mind a sophisticated trope through which to consider ’s host of other themes—our society’s decline into violent psychopathy, the jeopardy of culture in the hands of the mediocre, corporate greed and corruption, and the untenable position of the artist in these conditions, to name just a few. The musicians in this story, the best of them humdrum at most, are proxies for a phalanx of contemporary artists whose work relies almost entirely on content and hype, if that,

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