Pulp and Paper by Josh Rolnick
(Iowa Short Fiction Award)

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“I glanced out the window as my train pulled into the station and saw the girl who killed my son.” So begins Josh Rolnick’s powerful debut collection of eight stories, which utilizes a richly focused narrative style accenting the unavoidable tragedies of life while revealing the grace and dignity with which people learn to deal with them. The stories—four set in New Jersey and four in New York—span the wide geographic tapestry of the area and demonstrate the interconnectedness of both the neighboring states and the residents who inhabit them.
In “Funnyboy,” a grief-stricken Levi Stern struggles to come to terms with the banality of his son’s accidental death at the hands of Missy Jones, high school cheerleader. In “Pulp and Paper,” two neighbors, Gail Denny and Avery Mayberry, attempt to escape a toxic spill resulting from a train derailment when a moment of compassion alters both their futures forever. “Innkeeping” features a teenager’s simmering resentment toward the burgeoning relationship between his widowed mother and a long-term hotel guest. “The Herald” introduces us to Dale, a devoted reporter on a small-town newspaper, desperately striving to break a big-time story to salvage his career and his ego. A teenager deals with the inconceivable results of his innocent act before an ice hockey game in “Big Lake.” And in “The Carousel,” a Coney Island carousel operator confronts the fading memories of a world that once overflowed with grandeur and promise. Throughout, Rolnick’s characters search for a firm footing while wrestling with life’s hardships, finding hope and redemption in the simple yet uncommon willingness to act.
Pulp and Paper captures lightning in a bottle, excavating the smallest steps people take to move beyond grief, heartbreak, and failure—conjuring the subtle, fragile moments when people are not yet whole, but no longer quite as broken.

About Josh Rolnick

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 Josh Rolnick’s short stories have won the Arts & Letters Fiction Prize and the Florida Review Editor’s Choice Prize. They have also been published in Harvard Review, Western Humanities Review, Bellingham Review, and Gulf Coast, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New American Voices. A reporter, editor, and journal publisher, he grew up in New Jersey, spent summers camping his way through Upstate New York, and has lived in Jerusalem, London, Philadelphia, Iowa City, Washington, D.C., and Menlo Park, California. He currently lives with his wife and three sons in Akron, Ohio. 
Published September 16, 2011 by University Of Iowa Press. 182 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Pulp and Paper

Kirkus Reviews

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The opening section, "New Jersey," begins with two stories of loss.

Nov 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Pulp and Paper (Iowa Short Fi...

Publishers Weekly

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In a creditable first collection, Rolnick splits his time between New Jersey and New York.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Pulp and Paper (Iowa Short Fi...

BC Books

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Set in New York and New Jersey, the stories seem quite disparate: a carousel operator remembering better times on the boardwalk, a teenaged couple struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, a young boy coming to terms with his mother finding new love, a newspaper man with the scoop of his career.

Dec 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Pulp and Paper (Iowa Short Fi...

New York Journal of Books

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eight brilliant works of short fiction.”Josh Rolnick should win a prize for the best opening line of any work of fiction: “I glanced out the window as my train pulled into the station and saw the girl who killed my son.” That line, so powerful and gripping that it should be used in writing semina...

Sep 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Pulp and Paper (Iowa Short Fi...

Washington Independent Review of Books

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Pank Magazine

Once upon a time, there’d been a ferry service from Shady Cove and train lines from Philly and New York, but when we were kids, the only way on or off without a boat was via the Causeway – four lanes, two in each direction – a bridge with tubular fluorescent rails that skipped across the Great Ba...

Jan 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Pulp and Paper (Iowa Short Fi...

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