Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments
Jackson Bliss is the mixed-race/hapa author of Amnesia of June Bugs (7.13 Books, 2022), Dream Pop Origami (Unsolicited Press, 2022), and the speculative fiction hypertext, Dukkha, My Love (2017). His short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, Ploughshares, Guernica, Antioch Review, ZYZZYVA, Longreads, TriQuarterly, Columbia Journal, Kenyon Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Witness, Fiction, Santa Monica Review, Boston Review, Juked, Quarterly West, Arts & Letters, Joyland, Fiction International, Pleiades, Hobart, African American Review, Stand (UK), 3:am Magazine, The Good Men Project, The Daily Dot, and Multiethnic Literature in the US, among others. He has an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from USC. He is the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University and lives in LA with his wife and their two fashionably dressed dogs. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @jacksonbliss.
About Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments:
From fragmented ransom notes to hanging footnotes, contemporary fairy tales to coded text, interconnecting pieces of modal flash fiction to backwards fractal narratives about gradual blindness, transgressive listicles to how-to guides for performative wokeness, variable destinies in downtown Chicago to impossible dating applications, counterfactual relationships to the French translation of adolescence, the conceptual, language-driven short stories in Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments are an exploration of not just mixed-race/hapa identity in Michigan (and the American Midwest), but also of the infinite ways in which stories can be told, challenged, celebrated, and subverted.
This beautiful collection! Here are stories that challenge form, that attack the status quo, that ask urgent questions about love and identity and meaning and demand we sit up and pay attention to our answers. I left Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments renewed and inspired. Jackson Bliss’s boundary-pushing collection is an exquisite reminder that fiction, when written with this much heart and courage, can expand our understanding of what it means to be alive. You need to read this book.
Jackson Bliss, human kaleidoscope, sees, absorbs, considers, changes, plays with, and creates characters and situations that absolutely ring with aliveness. This writer’s insatiable appetite for the world and all we do in it transforms into gorgeous sentences and playful/serious inquiry here. A book of inspiring vitality and perception.
There’s an incredibly powerful attractive force waiting for you in every Jackson Bliss story, an irresistible magnetism powered by his energetic and welcoming voice, by his mathematical structural precision, by the wit and joy and justice that propel his fiction. This is one of the most inviting and innovative collections I’ve read, an endlessly compelling source of righteous adventure and wonder.
Jackson Bliss sends the whole mixed-race, mixed-ability world spinning in these stories. Lucky for us, he has just the right besotted dream language to share his visions and just the right koans to satisfy our need for mystery. Counterfactual Loves Stories & Other Experiments is funny, provocative, and soulful—it’s a wild ride and you should climb onboard.
Jackson Bliss may have invented a new genre of fiction, call it hapa fiction. In this collection of genre-crossing stories, a Norwegian woman and Japanese man meet in a glass museum and give birth to a demi-god glass blower. Gangs of tweens fight for racial justice on the streets of Grand Rapids. A lawyer vapes as she gazes longingly at the skyline of Tokyo while mixed-race kids left alone in Chicago compose songs from the notes blown by tugboats on the river. The realism in these stories is magical and Bliss makes the wonder that infuses them breezy as a jazz riff in a late-night Tokyo lounge. Or maybe it’s Chicago.
Energized and energizing, Jackson Bliss’s Counterfactual Love Stories posits fusion and confusion as problem and possibility, from race, gender, and wealth inequality to genre, form, and perspective, all with an eye toward exploring how we might make meaning(s) out of our illegible, hyperbolic now. Every sentence is a surprising and sometimes vulnerable, sometimes satiric bite, data-dense as a shockwave ride through some video game committed to showing us what five minutes into our future will look like.
A thrilling switchback roller coaster of a collection – by turns magical and absurd, nerdy and punk, soulful and furious. Read it/ride it – you’ll have your hands in the air, your heart in your mouth, the wind in your hair!
Of course the cover color of Jackson Bliss’s epochal collection for the anthropocene, Counterfactual Love Stories & Other Experiments, is fetching Coral. This book is made up of storied and honeycombed restless ramparts and multi-chambered reefs of intricate interlocking organic masonry, both delicate and enduring. Don’t let the title fool you. These are shifting and shifty fictions, artfully articulated cantilevers levered and buttresses flying. These are walls of sound in the wakes of spectacular wrecks! Here is the geological poetry of ice age glaciers gliding on their own tectonic melting.
Read this book for its endless invention, its vibrancy and intelligence, its urgency, its velocity, its enormous heart and troubled soul. Read this book for the aching poignancy of the lists, and all that is invested in that gesture. Read it for the way Jackson Bliss moves through the fleeting, fugitive, baffling world searching for the ballast and the deep consolation only fiction of the highest order attempts to find.
It’s supra-fun to hang out with Jackson Bliss’s brain. These stories play and provoke, reminding us that fiction can nudge the world and that the world needs a nudge.
$18 Paperback | Publication Date Oct. 1, 2021