Since 2017, Jay has headed up the Airstream Content Studio, producing high-quality, engaging content for Airstream.com, as well as the company’s online magazine/travel guide/outfitter, Airstream Supply Company.
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In the mid-2010s, Jay was a contributor and editor at the Ringside Reviews family of blogs: Bookpunch, Beatjab, and Screenhook. Though these blogs are now defunct, the experience was joyful, confined by the guard rails of a 200-words-or-less mandate.
Germany glows with the Führer’s bonfires. Stealing a book is an act of defiance and hiding a Jew is an act of treason. Everything, it seems, is punishable by death. He is coming. He knows when, where and why. You cannot escape.
But in a book narrated by Death himself, dying is the least punishment distributed. Even getting through the book is a kind of punishment. You started this, now you have to finish it. Death knows how this ends, and still he has a sense of humor. Sometimes his secrets slip out.
It doesn’t hurt any less.
This is a book about 40 millions deaths costumed in the story of a little girl, her friends, her family, and the Jew they hide in the basement.
The worst punishment? The laughter through the tears as the final pages turn. Because even as the words snap, whip, and beat the reader with the butt-end of a rifle – even as the world is swamped in Nazi red, white, and black – the reader smiles. Because this is a story about a little girl holding Death at bay, looking him in the face and smiling while the world burns in his wake.
Review of Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
These chapters pass like visions – like the fevered hallucinations that infect a logging crew near the beginning of this spectacular, short burst of fiction. These are pieces of a puzzle, which, when completed shows the weathered and indelible portrait of one Robert Granier. Lumberjack. Freight hauler. Railroader just after the turn of the 20th century. He’s a western type with a weary casualness banked against the severity of the time. He’s simple. Honest. Curious about this world and the people in it. He observes and experiences, but rarely interferes. He lives. He’s solid while others evaporate. He’s a husband, a father and later a widow. He’s haunted by curses and she-wolves and the death that’s more constant a companion than the red dog that happens upon his acre one season. And we, in turn, are powerless against the haunting clarity of Johnson’s writing. Like deathbed daydreams we become – for just 120 pages – Grainier. We see his life as memories. Like puffs of smoke belching from a train stack. And we wish, as we all will likely do when the final pages turn on our own novella, that just one more log might be thrown upon the fire.
Review of Tramp by Sharon van Etten
Sharon Van Etten is the real deal, and Tramp is the first great album of 2012. It’s the album we waited for through dark winter days, and Tramp delivers on every promise made by Van Etten’s maddeningly short, cheekily titled debut album epic. You may have heard Van Etten deals in heartache. But blessedly Tramp is devoid of whining. Van Etten avoids melodrama while spilling secrets and dreams and sadness that lesser artists would coat in cheap histrionics. Rarely are such powerful, poetic lyrics elevated so much by an artist’s voice. “You’re the reason I’ll move to the city or why I’ll need to leave,” she sings on early standout track “Give Out.” Her strength is writing lines in the present tense while imbuing the words with the seasoned voice of experience. It’s like she’s done what we’ve all wanted to do at one time or another: go back and re-live some terrible experience with the chance to change the things that made it hurt so much. Her songs transport us backward in time. They give us options. And more often than not they remind us that changing those moments would fundamentally change the people we are today.