John the Posthumous


"After reading Jason Schwartz, it's difficult to talk about any other writer's originality or unique relation to the language. John the Posthumous is a work of astounding power and distinction, beautifully strange, masterful." —Sam Lipsyte

"[Schwartz] is complete, as genius agonizingly is." —Gordon Lish

"Haunting, original prose by a writer unlike any other on the planet. Jason Schwartz is a master." —Ben Marcus

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About the Book

John the Posthumous exists in between fiction and poetry, elegy and history: a kind of novella in objects, it is an anatomy of marriage and adultery, an interlocking set of fictional histories, and the staccato telling of a murder, perhaps two murders. This is a literary album of a pre-Internet world, focused on physical elements — all of which are tools for either violence or sustenance. Knives, old iron gates, antique houses in flames; Biblical citations, blood and a history of the American bed: the unsettling, half-perceived images, and their precise but alien manipulation by a master of the language will stay with readers. Its themes are familiar — violence, betrayal, failure — its depiction of these utterly original and hauntingly beautiful.

Publication August 2013 • 148 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-21-3 • Ebook ISBN 978-1-939293-22-0

About the Author

Author Jason Schwartz was born in New York and lives in Florida. The author of A German Picturesque (Knopf, 1998), his work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Antioch Review, Conjunctions, New York Tyrant, The Quarterly, StoryQuarterly, Unsaid, and other publications.

Read an Excerpt

          Corinthians begins with the salutation, and not, as I had thought, a description of locusts on a

hilltop. Or even beetles in a forest, a woods, a copse –– on pine trees, for instance, as behind our

house. Chapter two cites “decline” –– “I came before you in weakness, trembling” –– though this offers

little about a burning town. I imagine axles and a wagon wheel, somehow, and then an animal –– its

shriek, I should think, rather like the sound a child makes, crying out at night. Chapter three cites

“fire” –– in Romans, by contrast, a “wooden throat” follows a “page of flesh,” or vice versa –– beside

“the tower” and “the house” and “the road.” Silver, in a later passage, is placed at a wall or at a gate,

despite the color of the jackals. Chapter four cites “rags,” which, displayed thus, may remind you of

certain birds, such as those lost at the falls. They were blinded, were they not? Or perhaps they died

of fright. It was smoke or fog, according to that story –– a great gray arrangement. The plumage was

blue, yes, but I am partial to the rabbits in the bracken. Chapter five cites “Satan,” even if, on

occasion, the body is a boy’s. The organs and the bones, anyway –– though these are soon replaced

with hay and straw. The latter is black –– I hate to admit how this still gives my heart a start –– and

the garment white. Chapter six cites “thieves” and “adulterers” –– rather than, as in Timothy, a “list of

widows.” The terms differ somewhat in the Egyptian conception, where demons accompany each

affliction. Here, the canopy signifies –– in one of the less extravagant descriptions –– a crown. When

the canopy depicts figures of the victim, or victims, the cords are red to indicate places of contagion.

The sackcloth vanishes, I gather, from the other houses, north along the road.

In the Media

Reader’s Digest, August 8th 2014

Green Mountains Review, March 4th 2014

Biblioklept, January 17th 2014

BOMB, January 7th 2014

The Quarterly Conversation, December 16th 2013

The Quarterly Conversation, December 12th 2013

3:AM Magazine, November 21st 2013

The Millions, November 14th 2013

Totally Dublin, November 4th 2013

The Next Best Book Blog, October 31st 2013

Writers No One Reads, October 24th 2013

The Rumpus, October 22nd 2013

The Rumpus, October 11th 2013

3:AM Magazine, October 8th 2013

Electric Literature, September 26th 2013

Full Stop Magazine, September 24th 2013

Litro Magazine, September 23rd 2013

Publishers Weekly, August 19th 2013

Biblioklept, July 26th 2013

3:AM Magazine, July 15th 2013

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