Guest Post by Colm McKenna
This year saw the re-release of Jim Dodge’s 1990 cult classic Stone Junction. While Fup remains the cornerstone of Dodge’s legacy, his first full novel is considerably more ambitious. Inexplicably, it is yet to be made into a film.
The story follows Daniel Pearse, a child taken in by AMO – Alliance of Magicians and Outlaws alongside his mother Annalee. Following her murder early on in the story, Stone Junction evolves into a bildungsroman, with Daniel being brought up by an eccentric cast of criminals and wizards. His unconventional education occurs alongside a search for his mother’s killer and an attempt to steal a supernatural diamond from the U.S. government.
Daniel and Annalee’s relationship is a driving force of the story, even after her death. Their situation is unusual, but their bond means they never feel unrelatable. Early on, Daniel offers his mother a piece of tear-soaked birthday cake he had just smashed; he was angry that she couldn’t tell him who his father was even if she wanted to. This moving scene of reconciliation takes place on a boat for magicians and outlaws, perfectly displaying the book’s capacity to juggle emotionally heavy themes and a more playful side.
With the recent success of literary adaptations (The Queen’s Gambit, Shadow and Bone, etc.), re-printing Stone Junction feels appropriate if a film is ever going to come. The novel appeals both to young and old readers; it is an emotionally intelligent coming-of-age story, but also engages with adult themes, ranging from grief to impotency. Dodge’s oeuvre has a minor place in 20th Century American Literature, and I hope this re-print of Stone Junction can help it receive the recognition it deserves.
Stone Junction by Jim Dodge. Grove Press, July 2022
Reviewer bio: Colm McKenna is a second-hand bookseller based in Paris. He has published and self-published an array of short stories and articles, hoping to eventually release a collection of stories. He is mainly interested in the works of Joh Cowper Powys, Claude Houghton and a range of Latin American writers.