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JP Gritton Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Wyoming (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

JP Gritton is a noir fiction author and assistant professor teaching Creative Writing at Duke University’s department of English. The Assistant Professor of Creative has also served at the University of Houston where he was a Cynthia Woods Mitchell fellow. He is also a Disquiet fellow and won the InPrint Donald Barthelme Prize in fiction. He is known as the translator of the works of Cidinha da Silva the Brazilian author that were featured in InTranslation. Professor Gritton went to Hamline University, from where he got his bachelor’s in Creative Writing and English before he attended Johns Hopkins for his MFA. His Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English is from the University of Houston. His debut novel was the critically acclaimed “Wyoming” that was published by Tin House Books in 2019. His other works have appeared in a variety of outlets that include the Southwest Review, Black Warrior Review. New Ohio Review, and Greensboro Review among many other places.

JP Gritton had always loved to write even though he has declared that his first love was the visual arts. He was lucky to be born in an artistic family as his sister and grandfather on his mother’s side were painters. He thought that painting was something he wanted to do when he grew up but fate had something else in store. While he aspired to live as a painter he was a voracious reader and over time the story behind the image held more interest to him and he started moving towards authorship. He particularly found Robertson Davies’s work “What’s Bred in the Bone” fascinating. The author had taken a painting and then narrated its provenance with some amazing skill and Gritton thought that was something he wanted to do.

JP Gritton had quite an interesting journey towards authorship. “Wyoming” the novel started out as regular scratches on his notebook when he came home after work during the fall and summer of 2006. The twenty-two-year-old Gritton was a construction worker in Colorado and used his journal as an escape from his dreary job. He went back to school and soon became a professor and forgot all about his journal. But then he found it one day going through his things and he thought he should rewrite his reflection about his construction job in the first person. Gritton heard several voices while rewriting his work one of whom was his Uncle Ed. He had been really close to his late uncle who lived deep in the Ozarks, in a small town called Arroll in Missouri. While Ed was nothing like his lead character Shelley, there are several things they share in common especially his voice which is identical to that of the lead. He believes that the story played better with Shelley’s narrative voice and thinks it is part of its charm. JP wrote the draft of the novel in six months and sold it to Tin House Publishing when he was about 32 years old.

Gritton’s novel “Wyoming” has been called a noir novel that is a combination of Annie Proulx and Daniel Woodrell. The novel is about the stubborn grip of inertia and asks the question “is it possible for one to find happiness if they cannot accept themselves?” The novel explores the friendship between Shelley the lead and Mike his best friend and in the same vein examines male to male relationships. Gritton has asserted that the core of the novel is about male relationships though he never set out to write it on the theme. He has always been fascinated by how friendship may be a shorthand for something bizarre and murkier. He got a lot of inspiration for the novel from Margaret Atwood’s classic “The Robber Bride,” which is one of the best in the sub-genre. JP Gritton is fascinated by friendships since there are so many ways in which they can be charged. For instance, there may be a hidden erotic animus that we hardly own or talk about. This is true for both close and strong friendships, where people are always finding people that are attractive or repulsive in equal measure. For instance, Shelley’s feelings towards Mike are also informed by a sense of repulsion. Overall, Wyoming is a compassionate novel even with its despair and violence as it paints a pitch-perfect and authentic portrait of America that is often ignored or caricatured. JP presents some hard truths with some cruelty and grit though he is generous and nuanced enough that the beating heart and troubled humanity of his narrator still shine through.

“Wyoming” by JP Gritton is a novel set in the latter years of the 1980s, where a Colorado family is struggling to survive the harsh economic times. Things turned sour for Shelley Cooper, a construction worker when a house that they were working on with his friend mike is burned down in a freak mountain fire. Shelley had stolen an air processor during the inferno and his boss rightly suspects him of the theft and terminates him. With little money to pay for his needs, he agrees to transport a shipment of marijuana for his brother Clay. His brother is an ex-convict who grows marijuana which he then sells to drug dealers across Texas. Shelley drives the shipment to Texas but gets the money stolen from him by a hooker he brought into his room. Nothing in his life ever goes right though he does not seem to particularly care. As he returns to the road, he tries to reconcile himself with the confrontation with his brother over the lost money, his love or lack of love for his family and his moral shortcomings. The drama unfolds with unforgivable suspense and horror as the reader gets a peek into a family that has a history of betrayal, love, loyalty and loss. It is only a great author that can create such a reprehensible character yet make him sympathetic and almost likable. It is a darkly humorous, affecting, and richly drawn novel about siblings that know nothing but grift with one just a little better than the other.

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