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Jungle Wedding: Stories

Clark, Joseph

3 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0393045269 / ISBN 13: 9780393045260
Published by W. W. Norton & Company, US, 1998
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
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0393045269 Near fine in near fine dust jacket. Inscribed presentation copy to the editor from the author. Signed by the author. First edition * Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Bookseller Inventory # WARE86KR3223

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Jungle Wedding: Stories

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, US

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


An electrifying debut collection by an ultra-contemporary and startlingly talented new writer.

Few writers of fiction have demonstrated so early in their career such a firm grasp of the forms disaster can take as Joseph Clark does in Jungle Wedding. Fewer still have been able to balance their unnerving feeling for apocalypse with an equally unerring sense of the possibilities for grace and transcendence, however provisional.

In the title story a cutting-edge video artist is hired to document a shamanistic New Age wedding ceremony deep in the Central American jungle ― and gets far more than he bargained for. In "Public Burning" a sociological experiment in the study and surveillance of an "average" American spirals down into a literally incendiary conclusion. "Wild Blue" is a tour de force narrative of one man's collision with the scarily dysfunctional American armed forces of the 1970s.

Other stories in Jungle Wedding hold out possibilities for communion, reconciliation, and absolution. In "Revenge" emotional rescue for a psychologically besieged divorcée arrives in the form of a clearly too-young lust object, while "Oasis" stages a haunting father-daughter reunion in terrain reminiscent of a Sam Shepard play. Whatever his subject, Clark stakes out his territory with an imaginative authority and vigor of language that is truly exciting.


In lesser hands, the shocking scene or surreal narrative can come across as little more than the literary version of a sucker punch. You take notice the way you would if someone wore a clown suit on a dinner date or blew an air horn in your ear during a quiet walk in the woods. With the correct amount of authorial know-how, however, there's a lot to be said for unexpected juxtapositions. Whether you're a Joycean or a rap-music historian, you have to bow down to the power of two (or more) worlds colliding.

Joseph Clark does. Jungle Wedding, his first collection, often focuses on the alchemy of the everyday. In "Mammals," the newly recovered pill-addict wife of a jazz musician encounters a beached dolphin, and both reader and character emerge with a fuzzy yet new insight into the inexplicable lure of ritual. "Wild Blue" features a narrator who hallucinates malignant blue auras around almost everything until he finally takes a look in the mirror. In the book's strongest piece, "At Last, the Ark," a fluke flood hits the middle of the desert, and an all-night convenience store becomes the point of rebirth not only for the marriage of a struggling couple but also for civilization itself. To hear the store clerk tell it, civilization might be well overdue for an overhaul. Looking back on her past, it seems she "spent too much of her life in a double-wide with a succession of men busy reinventing violence and rage." What happens next is up for grabs, but you get the sense that there's room for improvement.

Clark remains true to his epiphanies by blurring them at the edges. His stories don't slam shut, but rather wear their gaps and vaguenesses proudly. It is through such imperfect interstices that the text fills with something that could very well resemble hope. --Bob Michaels

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