The Usual Uncertainties (Rescue Press)
The Usual Uncertainties—Jonathan Blum's highly anticipated first collection—is storytelling at its finest. In precise, elegant prose, these stories follow characters and communities often consigned to the edge of the frame: a community college dropout, a geriatric care manager, a square dance bar mitzvah, a Scrabble club, an entrepreneurial Thai immigrant, and a South Florida country club. With echoes of Leonard Michaels, Mavis Gallant, and Lore Segal, Blum explores the ways our divergent histories tether us together and at times push us completely apart. The Usual Uncertainties revels in the persistent human struggle to love with abandon and marks a radiant voice in American short fiction.
Praise for The Usual Uncertainties:
The characters that inhabit these stories will break your heart and mend it simultaneously. A writer of immense talent and imagination, Jonathan Blum is unafraid to explore, sometimes hilariously, the most dangerous interiors of personality in ways we’ve never quite seen before. The Usual Uncertainties tackles the most primal of our human dilemmas with a vision as profound and achingly delicate as it is unforgettable.–Holiday Reinhorn, author of Big Cats: Stories
Jonathan Blum is a wonderful writer: witty and sharp, compassionate and humane, and The Usual Uncertainties is a flat-out glorious collection that manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking, nervy and timeless. I won’t soon forget these masterful stories.–Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans
These wonderful stories by Jonathan Blum run so many gamuts—his range is glorious: from joy to grief, from hilarity to solemnity, from stupidity to wisdom. When I consider how beautifully achieved these stories are I weep with pleasure. Jonathan Blum is the real deal, the full spectrum and I’ve known this from when I first read him such a long time ago. This is his first full book of stories—finally, at last. The world needs this book. We deserve it after a long wait.–Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s Bookworm
I love everything about this book. These are wise and richly imagined stories, at turns hilarious and heartbreaking. Blum is undeniably a master of the short story form, a writer of profound compassion and virtuosic talent, and these stories mark the arrival of a major new voice in American short fiction.–Andrew Porter, author of The Theory of Light and Matter
In these wonderfully various stories, gentle and bizarre and tragic and very funny, there are characters the likes of which have rarely been given life in fiction: the young son of a pulmonary oncologist learns excitedly to read x-rays, and that excitement is very different than what his father feels. A widow makes a business of bringing a quality of life to elders, and a thirteen-year-old Roger, on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah, has a T-shirt stamped: I’d Rather Be Davening. Herm is a one-man ad hoc adoption agency finding unwanted newborns and delivering them into well-appointed futures. Jonathan Blum descends from a great tradition of Jewish storytellers, Richler, Malamud, Michaels, and he brings the tradition into the twenty-first century, and he brings the tradition west, too, to Los Angeles. Oh, and south to Florida, and right up to the Shabbat table where Adam sits with his Thai girlfriend in “A Certain Light on Los Angeles.” There is a certain light here in these stories and it is very much worth your time.–Michelle Latiolais, author of Widow
Jonathan Blum is the author of two books of fiction: Last Word (Rescue Press, 2013), a novella, and The Usual Uncertainties (Rescue Press, 2019), a forthcoming story collection. Blum grew up in Miami and graduated from UCLA and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His short stories have appeared in Angels Flight • literary west, The Carolina Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Playboy, Sonora Review, and in Shanxi Literature, among others. He has taught fiction writing at The University of Iowa, Drew University, and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and is the recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award, a Hawthornden fellowship in Scotland, and a grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. He has also been a guest writer at the Tianjin Binhai New Area International Writing Program in China. He lives in Los Angeles.
Photo by Shelby Demory