Let’s get physical

Local writer John Jodzio teams up with Paper Darts to publish his short story collection “Get In If You Want to Live.”

Jon Jodzio, author of the new book

Marisa Wojcik

Jon Jodzio, author of the new book "Get In If You Want to Live," plays in the leaves outside of his office Wednesday on the University of Minnesota Campus. Jodzio's book is a collection of humorus short stories.

Joseph Kleinschmidt

 

A bear who regrets his drunken night out and a man who will only have sex with women named âÄúJeanâÄù form two of the exploits from John JodzioâÄôs latest collection of short-short stories. 

The local recipient of a Loft-McKnight fellowship follows up 2010âÄôs short story collection âÄúIf You Lived Here, YouâÄôd Already Be HomeâÄù with the Paper Darts-published collection âÄúGet In If You Want to Live.âÄù 

Including stories like âÄúMy Codpiece Smells Like SoupâÄù and âÄúI Am Committed to Getting You Your Heroin at the Peak of Its Freshness,âÄù Jodzio crafts eccentric characters with hilariously absurd motivations.

âÄúI donâÄôt know how my mind works and brings these two ideas that are pretty far flung together. That just sort of how it ends up happening in my head,âÄù Jodzio said.

Conversation seems to spark many of the narratives, springing from wild topics like hookers who really like chili or two best friends who resemble Handel and Beethoven.

âÄúFor a lot of the stuff that I write, thereâÄôs always one good opening line,âÄù Jodzio said. âÄúBut that spurs me along into the story, and if I donâÄôt have that initial spark, itâÄôs hard to get into.âÄù

Each of the 19 stories in âÄúGet In âĦâÄù uses this distinctive blend of humor alongside a revolving door of characters in fewer than 1,000 words. 

JodzioâÄôs comedic ability fits his writing technique âÄî heâÄôs known for writing each sentence incrementally, reading what heâÄôs written after every new sentence.

âÄúA word out of place makes a sentence unfunny,âÄù Jodzio said. âÄúIf you switch one word in a sentence, things start to open up in a more humorous way.âÄù

JodzioâÄôs unique voice matches his publisherâÄôs distinctive DIY aesthetic. After meeting Paper Darts co-founders and University of Minnesota graduates Jamie Millard, Regan Smith and Meghan Suszynski, Jodzio sought to publish his new collection under the creative helm of the threeâÄôs literary magazine, whose namesake is inspired by Virginia Woolf.

âÄúItâÄôs sort of a weird project that a traditional publisher wouldnâÄôt do,âÄù Jodzio said. âÄúI shot that to them because I knew [Paper Darts] was looking for other ventures.âÄù

The U alumni attribute their experiences at the âÄúIvory TowerâÄù to Paper DartsâÄô success.

âÄúTo have something where youâÄôre literally creating the project from step one all the way to the finish with âÄòIvory Tower,âÄô to have a class like that was absolutely the only way we could have done what we are doing now,âÄù Suszynski said.

Images naturally accentuate JodzioâÄôs bizarre scenes. âÄúSorry But I Just CanâÄôt Marry a Woman That DoesnâÄôt Look Hot On the JumbotronâÄù features an animated close-up of a beaming, pixilated woman by graphic designer Kylo Moonguts. 

The local and national artists Paper Darts recruits reflect JodzioâÄôs strong comedic visual themes.

âÄúI wanted to see how people would interpret these pieces visually,âÄù Jodzio said. âÄúItâÄôs weird how literal some people were doing some stuff and then thereâÄôs other [artists] who are just totally bizarre.âÄù

Garnering praise from former SNL cast member Fred Armisen and author Chuck Klosterman, JodzioâÄôs narrow confines allow for true leaps in comic boundaries. The eye-popping visuals that the art and literature house of Paper Darts provides exhibit a unique collaboration in the diminishing world of printed writing.

âÄúI would say in 10 years, the majority of stuff is going to be published online unless you have a really strong art component to a book,âÄù Jodzio said.

Paper DartsâÄô strong Internet presence alongside their magazineâÄôs printed output carves out a niche in the local literary community without relying on one art form.

âÄúWeâÄôve always valued print, but we donâÄôt do it at the negligence of digital tools. We value each medium equally,âÄù Millard said. âÄúAnd we donâÄôt think digital technology overshadows print.âÄù