Jim Grimsley is a prolific playwright, and his several novels -- among them Winter Birds, Dream Boy, My Drowning, Comfort and Joy, Boulevard -- have won the Sue Kaufman Prize, an ALA Stonewall Book Award, a Lila Wallace-Readers' Digest Award, and a Lammy. Now comes his first collection of short stories, Jesus Is Sending You This Message, again peeling back the layers of life around his southern, gay characters. The sixteen stories average about twelve pages each, so don't expect the full Alice Munro immersion, but listen to Dorothy Allison rave about the book in her introduction:
"Here are the gorgeous, sexy, startling, and completely mesmerizing creations of the remarkable Jim Grimsley. Take a deep breath and get ready. You need what you're going to find here."
"Yes these are southern stories, gay stories, romances, and lyric realism that will show you a grace of insight made even more startling by the everyday, matter-of-fact people whom Jim Grimsley renders with compassion. You will find too those flashes of that wry, wonderful sense of humor that I treasure."
Equally exciting is the blurb from Ha Jin:
"Jim is one of the very best Southern novelists of his generation. His books achieve an elegance and intensity of language that is very different from most prose writers."
Oddly, the publisher has omitted the copyright information and acknowledgments that ought to cite where these stories first appeared. A casual reader could wrongly infer that the stories were rejected everywhere. In fact, the title story was published in Ontario Review and picked up to appear in the annual anthology, New Stories from the South 2001, selected by Lee Smith.
Grimsley will read from the book in Manhattan on October 29 at the 82nd & Broadway Barnes & Noble.