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Self-Portrait with Ghosts and Trains, Jessie Lynn McMains

Self-Portrait with Ghosts and Trains, Jessie Lynn McMains

Hello America Stereo Cassette

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"Jessie Lynn McMains is an American writer. I mean that in the sense that their writing shows the sum of America as they know it--a wild, panoramic, documentary view. The rundown Midwest towns, the coal trains, haunted lakeshores, factories closing, heroin habits, old men fishing for trout, summer lovers, unholy motel rooms, dust motes blazing, cornfields, head-on collisions, fried potatoes, queer love, endless arguments and endless cigarettes, dim-lit bars, and the quiet, sunny, overgrown railyards of every town everywhere. Their writing feels like a Middlewestern Whitman for 2021, as they deliver visual, thoughtful, dark, well-crafted depictions of life in this failing empire.

Self-Portrait with Ghosts and Trains makes me want to drive around and look at things, listen in on things, stare at my problems then smash them with a strongman's hammer from a county fair. Some books, some stories, poems, songs push you to toss yourself into the thick of life, to dive into the dense, crowded world of humanity and throw some punches, give a few hugs, buy people drinks, wait out a rainstorm, sing a ballad, catch a ride, seek the ghosts, seek the ghost of your teenage self, of your childhood, of the all yous you've been.

I love this record like Brautigan throwing a rock through a police station window. All chorus, all the time." –Adam Gnade
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