Damascus by Joshua Mohr

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"[Mohr] has a generous understanding of his characters, whom he describes with an intelligence and sensitivity that pulls you in."—The New York Times Book Review (editors' choice) on Termite Parade

It's 2003 and the country is divided evenly for and against the Iraq War. Damascus, a dive bar in San Francisco's Mission District, becomes the unlikely setting for a showdown between the opposing sides.

Tensions come to a boil when Owen, the bar's proprietor who has recently taken to wearing a Santa suit full-time, agrees to host the joint's first (and only) art show by Sylvia Suture, an ambitious young artist who longs to take her act to the dramatic precipice of the high-wire by nailing live fish to the walls as a political statement.

An incredibly creative and fully rendered cast of characters orbit the bar. There's No Eyebrows, a cancer patient who has come to the Mission to die anonymously; Shambles, the patron saint of the hand job; Revv, a lead singer who acts too much like a lead singer; and Owen, donning his Santa costume to mask the most unfortunate birthmark imaginable.

Damascus is the place where confusion and frustration run out of room to hide. By gracefully tackling such complicated topics as cancer, Iraq, and issues of self-esteem, Joshua Mohr has painted his most accomplished novel yet.

Joshua Mohr is the San Francisco Chronicle best-selling author of Some Things That Meant the World to Me and Termite Parade, a New York Times Book Review editors' choice selection.


About Joshua Mohr

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Joshua Mohr is the author of the novels Termite Parade (a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice selection), Some Things that Meant the World to Me (one of O Magazine's Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller), and Damascus, published in the fall of 2011 to much critical acclaim. Mohr teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.
Published October 18, 2011 by Two Dollar Radio. 218 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Damascus

Publishers Weekly

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Browbeaten characters belly up to a San Francisco saloon in Mohr’s third novel, rife with themes of humanity, passion, and determined resilience. Damascus, a seedy Mission District dive bar (where “ev

Aug 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

Publishers Weekly

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a street scene confrontation with Owen and the father of a little girl who comments that Owen looks like Adolf Hitler feels contrived as does the overwritten hostage scene and firestorm at Damascus, but this accom-plished effort demonstrates Mohr’s rich, resonant prose, authentically rendered s...

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

BC Books

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At the same time, however, at the other end of all spectrums, Owen has made the acquaintanceship of injured Iraq War veteran Byron Settles, who is in close enough vicinity to get wind and the whatnots of the art show just about to be set up.

Oct 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

BC Books

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Owen's yearned-for yuletide spirit might have gotten the better of him when he allows his niece Daphne's best friend and artist Sylvia Suture to debut her crackpot 'Olfactory Installation' art exhibit — a political statement against the Iraq War — at the bar.

Oct 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

The Wall Street Journal

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'So, having failed to master so many real places, I invented one," Jan Morris writes in the epilogue to her richly imaginative novel "Hav" (New York Review Books, 301 pages, $15.95).

Nov 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

San Francisco Chronicle

Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle Josh Mohr, seen on Monday, Sept.

Oct 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

The Columbus Dispatch

He has a gift for repulsive metaphors: The yellow skin of the cancer patient clings to him “like a layer of film on cold chicken broth,” while Owen exudes “thick, marbled hangover sweat, the kind that shoved its way through the skin like coffee pooling and pushing past a filter — heavy and hot an...

Oct 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

Lit Reactor

Otherwise, Click here to log in In 2009, O magazine named Joshua Mohr's debut, Some Things That Meant The World To Me, one of their 10 Terrific reads, saying: "Bukowski fans will dig the grit in this seedy novel."

Oct 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

Vol. 1 Brooklyn

In short, it’s a collection of characters with intertwining stories that create what we’ve come to identify as a novel, as well as an interesting use of short story style writing in novel form.

Dec 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Damascus

The Nervous Breakdown

Take this scene, the first time that Shambles jerks off No Eyebrows, in the bar’s tiny, run down bathroom in the back: “‘Do you like that?’ she said, and he said, ‘Don’t stop touching me,” and someone knocked on the door again and No Eyebrows threw his head back: every disappearing detail of his...

Feb 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Damascus

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