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American Death Songs: Stories by Jordan Harper Paperback – January 1, 2013


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The story of the Whitshank family told in Anne Tyler's hallmark setting—Baltimore. Read the full description | Learn more about the author

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jordan was born and educated in Missouri. He's worked as an ad man, a rock critic and a teevee writer. He is the former music editor of St. Louis's Riverfront Times and a former critic for Village Voice Media. He currently lives in Los Angeles and writes for The Mentalist on CBS. Jordan collects trash fiction, true crime books and how-to manuals for dirty deeds.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Beautiful Trash (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988721600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988721609
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,839,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jordan Harper was born and educated in Missouri. He's worked as an ad man, a rock critic and a teevee writer. He is the former music editor of St. Louis's Riverfront Times and a former critic for Village Voice Media. He currently lives in Los Angeles and writes for The Mentalist on CBS.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
73%
4 star
18%
3 star
0%
2 star
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1 star
9%
See all 22 customer reviews
It makes you want to read the book in one sitting.
MaryAnn
Harper's short stories are beautifully written, the prose pulling the reader in even though the words written are full of raw R ratedness.
J
This will be one of the best collections you ever read, guaranteed.
Joe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alex on March 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
"Gripping." "Page-turner." Words reserved for generic publisher promotion of a book; maybe a political thriller, or a suspense novel... But not in this case. In "American Death Songs", Harper restores these terms with their original sentiment. A page-turner, from start to finish. Gripping plot, after gripping plot.

After convincing you to get in the car, Harper takes you to all of the places you've secretly wanted to visit, but could never get an invite to. - High desert commercial circles; inside bank robberies; bars with solid metal front doors; to doors made of solid metal bars; celebrity hangouts and hellholes; the sanctuaries and offices of society's human outliers. He takes you inside the mind of problem solvers, problem-makers, desperate men and women, and survivors. Each Death Song gives enough to unsettle the surest mind, then reaffirms the motivations and needs all humans share; your own life could flash before your eyes right along with the character on the page.

I enjoyed "American Death Songs" immensely, and the only thing I could think to do to make up for finishing it was to get back on Amazon and buy more for my friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J on March 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am an unabashed fan of The Mentalist and have always thoroughly enjoyed Jordan Harper's episodes. This collection of short stories reveals a new side to Harper one showcasing a master of the gritty reality of life. Harper's short stories are beautifully written, the prose pulling the reader in even though the words written are full of raw R ratedness. Harper has always been wonderful at characterization and he continues to be here. These characters are not heroes but you, as the reader, feel connected to them (even when your lives are not remotely the same), you want them to somehow work this all out, you actually like them (even murderers!). That is why Harper is brilliant- he shows the reader a different side of America, where there isn't knights in shining armor, or white picket fences- a world that we choose not to see. But he does so without losing the reader. Instead once you pick up American Death Songs you truly can't put it down. The last time I read a collection of short stories so good and moving was in college. This collection, I expect, will linger with me even longer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Benoit Lelievre on October 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
I do not recall, from memory, an author more talented than Jordan Harper at picturing violence in fiction. Something about the pacing he established and the voyeuristic distance he takes from his characters is troubling in the utmost satisfying way like an object coiling around your neck and choking you into auto-erotic bliss.

AMERICAN DEATH SONGS is a strange, poetic and obscure title to a collection, but it's also oddly accurate. It could've been called DARK AMERICAN MYTHS or LEGENDS OF THE NEW FAR-WEST for that Harper's tone is often epic, borderline biblical. My favorite story was AGUA DULCE, which might just be my favorite shootout scene ever written, but several other stories stood out such as: MIDNIGHT RIDER, PLAYING DEAD and HEART CHECK. I'm usually not a fan of collected stories, but this is worth your time. Great authors write cohesive material whether they are aware of it or not and Harper really is great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TaylorPark on February 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've never been to prison. Nor have I ever been a skinhead biker meth addict wanted for murder. I have never been part of a Jamaican hit squad in action on a steamy summer night in Brooklyn. But after reading the bite sized tales of blood and filth and passion Harper has constructed, I feel like I have seen the darkest most shameful corners of American life, and I can't quite unblink the images off my mind's retina. I feel like I've taken a trip, and not all of me has come back just yet. ANYONE can write blood and guts, and these stories certainly don't disappoint in that department - but the author digs you so deeply into the mind of both shooter and target you can't tell whether you just pulled the trigger or you feel the hot sting of the bullet in your chest. I haven't plowed through a book like this in a LONG time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave Wilde on October 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jordan Harper is one of the newer voices on the crime fiction scene. He has written for Thuglit among other publications. He also writes for a tv show called The Mentalist that I've never watched and thus have no opinion on.

This collection of thirteen gems I read and I have a definite opinion on: Good stuff. Hell, you know if a book is going to be good from page one, don't you. Some books you want to skip ahead to find out what's going to happen. Not this one. You want to savor every sentence about meth- head friends who somehow convince the narrator to drive a stolen car to a drug deal.

Midnight Rider is the first selection and that's what it's about. A taste of life on high octane gas. Like Riding a Moped is story número two. Forget all the jokes about chubby chasers. Now you know. Story three is Agua Dulce. It teaches that you don't buy meth on credit, just make down payments on a slow motion suicide. Figure it out. A meth filled shoot out in the High Desert with a brand of Nazis like it's the end of the world. Wow.

Next up is "Playing Dead." It's kind of about a drug deal gone bad and survival tactics in the big city.

"Red Hair and Black Leather" begins with the line: "She had an ass like a Heart turned upside down and cut in half." Jackie owns a bar but when a piece like that walks in he might just be closed for the day.

"Plan C" is a modern version of Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon.
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