An epidemic of violence is sweeping the country: musicians are being murdered onstage in the middle of their sets by members of their audience. Are these random copycat killings, or is something more sinister at work? Has music itself become corrupted in a culture where everything is available, everybody is a “creative,” and attention spans have dwindled to nothing.
With its cast of ambitious bands, yearning fans, and enigmatic killers, Destroy All Monsters tells a haunted and romantic story of overdue endings and unlikely beginnings that will resonate with anybody who’s ever loved music.
Like a classic vinyl single, Destroy All Monsters has two sides that can be read in any order. You read one side, then flip the book over and upside down to read the other. At the heart of Side A, “My Dark Ages,” is Xenie, a young woman who is repulsed by the violence of the epidemic but who still finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery. Side B, “Kill City,” follows an alternate history, featuring familiar characters in surprising roles, and burrows deeper into the methods and motivations of the murderers.
A gallery of images that were inspirational in writing the novel:
Patti Smith and a friend.
Haunting Bruce Connor.
To write a book as fearless as a backflip by HR of Bad Brains.
“Fire Seeks Its Own Form.” Image by Michael Salerno.
Biting the arrow.
Real hardcore. Hopey and co. on tour in Jaime Hernandez’s “Love & Rockets.”
Iggy Pop and James Williamson circa “Kill City.”
Eliane Radigue, The Queen of Drone.
Eliane again. One of my favorite album covers.
Bruce Connor captures Crime in action.
Pere Ubu circa “My Dark Ages”
Destroy All Monsters, the band
Destroy All Monsters, the magazine
“Jeff Jackson is one of contemporary American fiction’s most sterling and gifted new masters. With Destroy All Monsters, he has raised the high bar his work already set. It’s a novel that impresses on many levels, with its beautifully hypnagogic, catastrophic story and writing that is a wonder to behold.”
– Dennis Cooper
“At some point, I began to think of it as an ancient folk tale. It’s fine work, with a kind of scattered narrative set within a tight frame. Fast-moving throughout – fragile characters who suggest a bleak inner world made in their own collective image.”
– Don DeLillo
“Destroy All Monsters has a distinct pulse–a kind of heart beat–that comes out of the rhythm of the prose, the inventiveness of the form, and the willingness of Jeff Jackson to engage the mysterious alchemy of violence, performance, and authenticity. This accomplished, uncanny novel is simultaneously seductive and unsettling.”
– Dana Spiotta
“Jeff Jackson’s new novel surges with new-century anxiety and paranoia as it documents a fraught new state of vulnerability in which maybe everything is coming to an end. In other words, it’s a clear-eyed, stone cold vision of what’s to come.”
– Ben Marcus
“Delightful in its use of playful forms—including, appropriately, an A and B side—this taut, atmospheric rock and roll thriller touches a raw nerve with its subject matter. Add the artist’s struggle authentic power and the carrot of fame—Destroy All Monsters is rock enough for anyone.”
– Janet Fitch
“Punk rock in literary form.”
“Destroy All Monsters is like Rashomon meets the underground punk scene. This book is larger than itself and the most ambitious work Jackson has attempted, and goddamn if he doesn’t pull it off.”
– The Big Smoke
Full review here: http://thebigsmoke.com/2018/09/11/book-review-destroy-all-monsters-by-jeff-jackson/
“Jackson artfully eliminates distance between action and the reader, hijacking with a propulsive style into real-time dilemmas of belonging, assimilation, and acceptance.”
Full review here: https://pankmagazine.com/2018/07/26/review-destroy-monsters-jeff-jackson/
“Jackson builds an anxious, deeply felt narrative probing a nationwide epidemic of murders of musicians. In opposing versions of the story—there’s an A side and a B side—Jackson follows several residents of the nondescript city of Arcadia who turn out to be both victims and perpetrators of crimes. Infected with this eerie conceit, and expressed through gritty, sharp prose, the novel provides both deep character exploration and a nuanced commentary on music, creativity, and violence.”
– Publishers Weekly starred review : https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-53766-1?fbclid=IwAR27ePkZ7FJkxYiKKhkmeEapj3LvHyhGN81Ttz76l7691NhC34SDqtwHVb4
“Destroy All Monsters is an inventive and powerful book. It’s my favorite rock novel.”
– David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
Soundtrack for Book Titles:
Destroy All Monsters
Playing their hit song “You Can’t Kill Kill”
Side A: My Dark Ages
Early single by Pere Ubu
Side B: Kill City
Title track from album by Iggy Pop and James Williamson
Consumer Warning Bonus Track
Heavens to Betsy “These Monsters Are Real”
EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL IN GUERNICA:
It’s the night the music comes home. That’s how the concert is billed on the red flyers plastered along the telephone poles that lead into Arcadia. The notices accompany cars through the few blocks of dive bars, all-night diners, and ethnic restaurants that constitute the ragged downtown. Drivers cruise the streets in search of parking spaces, gliding past the ticket holders streaming toward the show and the onlookers loitering under streetlights. Normally people come to make the most of their hours away from jobs at the wheelchair factory, the tire warehouses, and construction gigs, but this crowd has flocked here for the homecoming show of a local band whose songs have gone viral. Their attention is riveted on the theater, its façade lit up like a beacon. A bustling queue of teenagers wraps along the building’s perimeter, bodies pressed tight to keep a claim on their territory. They’ve camped out on the sidewalk for hours, dressed light in anticipation of spring weather that hasn’t arrived, a sampling of what passes for an underground scene in this conservative industrial city. The strip-mall goths, the mod metalheads, the blue-collar ravers, the bathtub-shitting punks, the jaded aesthetes who consider themselves beyond category. Everyone in line has imagined a night that could crack open and transform their dreary realities. This is it.
Xenie clutches one of the red concert flyers while she watches the line grow. Teenagers swarm in tense cliques, unaccustomed to seeing one another away from the usual hangouts—the parking lot of the sandwich shop that sells alcohol to minors, the skate park haunted by the spirits of dead twins, the abandoned flag factory that’s the site of ritualistic revels. Only one band could draw everyone here together. A steady stream of newcomers search for the end of the queue that’s vanished around the corner. The overhead marquee doesn’t bother to advertise the Carmelite Rifles. It simply says SOLD OUT.
Xenie smooths her tattered blouse and thrift-store skirt and scans the crowd, knocking her combat boots together for luck. Somebody has to have a spare ticket. She listens to some kids in tie-dye t-shirts and leather dog collars swapping stories about the band’s incandescent live shows. The one where they dressed as the headlining band and played their set note for note. The epic concert at Echo Echo whose encore spilled out into the courtyard.
—I was at their very first gig, she says. They played next to a washing machine in the drummer’s basement.
Nobody replies or looks up. Maybe she didn’t actually say anything out loud.
The sixteen-year-old keeps pacing in front of the theater. The scalpers skulking along the sidewalk keep a lookout for cops while chanting astronomical numbers under their breath. They assess her with sidelong glances both pitying and predatory.
Farther down the queue, she recognizes several faces from other shows, a tattooed girl with sleepy eyes and a blue-haired boy with pierced lips. Not that she’s ever summoned the nerve to speak to them. Anybody got an extra ticket? she asks.
She holds up the concert flyer to emphasize her point, but it’s the wrong side. She stands there facing the line, desperately waving a page of pure red.
Two teenage boys linger at the end of the line. They stand slightly apart from the shrinking queue. They try not to act alarmed by the low rumble of the opening act’s set, but it’s obvious the show has officially started. The tall skinny boy frantically empties the contents of his billfold onto the sidewalk. His face blazes crimson. I fucked up, he says. I really fucked up.
He turns to his friend Shaun and displays the empty expanse of wallet where their tickets should be.
—I must’ve left them at home, Florian says. I can call my mom. Maybe she’ll bring them.
Shaun is sunk in thought. He casually shakes his long brown hair out of his eyes. Typically calm and unruffled. Still got the cassette? he asks.
—Right here, Florian says.
The demo tape contains several songs they wrote and recorded together. Their latest batch. The label doesn’t list who played what because they share duties on vocals, guitars, everything. They’ve transferred the music to magnetic tape for maximum retro appeal. The case is spray-painted bright violet.
Shaun nods, then walks straight toward the front of the line, past the people impatiently shuffling their feet and the rows of silk-screened concert posters. Florian stumbles after him with his stork-like steps, barely keeping up as they approach the security guard who clutches a wooden clipboard. The teardrop tattoos inked under his eyes make it even more difficult to imagine him crying.
—Hey, man, Shaun calls to the guard as if greeting an old confidant. I don’t know what name he put us under. Maybe you can help us out.
—Who are you talking about? the guard says.
—You know, Mickey, the bass player. We’re his cousins. Maybe it’s under Mickey’s name, maybe it’s under mine, maybe my brother’s.
The guard looks perplexed as he scrolls through the printed names on the guest list.
—Here we are, Shaun says, peering over his shoulder and pointing to an unchecked name. That’s me, and my brother’s the plus-one.
The guard looks skeptical, but Shaun has already extended his wrist to receive a stamp. Florian follows his lead. He’s used to his friend pulling off these sorts of stunts.
At the theater’s entrance, Shaun notices a girl in a thrift-store ensemble and combat boots pacing the sidewalk. The spiky cut of her blonde hair doesn’t entirely obscure her delicate features. She’s singing one of the band’s tunes under her breath, repeating the chorus in a lilting croon. Her lips barely move, but the shape of the song vibrates in her throat.
My website: www.deathofliterature.com
Buying the book –
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780374537661
Book Depository (for overseas): https://www.bookdepository.com/Destroy-All-Monsters-Jeff-Jackson/9780374537661
FSG Originals site for the book:
Jeff’s band Julian Calendar – their album “Parallel Collage”:
p.s. Hey. This weekend the blog adds its two cents to the general and very deserved outcry of praise and attention to Jeff Jackson’s spanking new novel, in our case via a personal tour of the work by Jeff himself. If you have yet to score a copy, let today’s post be your breaking point. Thank you ever so much, Jeff. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. And there are unsurprisingly dozens and dozens of hideous Trump monster masks on sale this season. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. That Cerith Wyn Evans work looks excellent, I must say. Have the swellest weekend. ** Jamie, Ha ha, thanks, bud. Aw, so nice to hear that Halloween has made its tactless way to your environs. Paris seems to be giving it the usual cold French shoulder. God would weep. I really don’t think missing a projection of ‘Halloween’ will impact your consciousness on even the most minimalist level. Maybe the script is very slightly inch-and-a-halfing along instead of inching. My weekend? Work. Gisele gets back briefly from her/our touring, and I think she’s dragging me along with her to Le Manoir de Paris for my second go-round, which is not a problem for me really. I’m going to hunt around for any special Halloween-makeover pastries that might be lurking in the cool patisseries. I think I have a bead on one maybe. Uh, but mostly script work. I greatly envy you seeing presumably interesting films and seeing them at the lovely Tramway, you devil. And Hannah’s arriving. Give her my hug. Make it warm and friendly. Ha ha, great weekend wish, thanks. May yours ride the snake, into the lake, the ancient lake. There was a later period Hellraiser villain who did that CD mouth shooting thing, you’re right, and Clive Barker himself told me they were Korn CDs, and he insisted on them being Korn CDs because he loved Korn at the time, which made me question how truly evil his evil is love, Dennis. ** Keatontheapp, Oh, you’re an app. I want to be an app. At least on the weekends. Hook me up. Okay, I’ll check the Petit. It’s about a 15 minutes walk from my pad, so … Whoa, what’s on your blog? I like it. It spooked me out and cozied up to me too. Really, one porn? You’re almost a virgin. You’re so close, damn. I didn’t even like the kills. I thought they seemed like they were tippy-toeing around kills. What’s your weekend? ** Dominik, Hi, D! Here neither, really, hype-wise. One of life’s great inexplicabilities. Turns out Zac doesn’t get back to Paris until the 2nd, so Salon du Chocolat will have to happen post-Halloween on the 3rd, so now I have to figure out a way to have one-person Halloween without a shitload of chocolate to help, shit. Oh, do tell about Prague when you go, yes. There might be some near-future art show there that has one of my gif novels in it, which might finally get me there. I didn’t go the concert. There was a last minute crisis that needed to be solved, and it was, but I missed the show to do that. It was a rare appearance by the great experimental composer Alvin Lucier with my pal Stephen O’Malley doing guitar stuff with Oren Ambarchi as an opening act. I can’t believe you’re still impaired by your foot, but I’m glad it’s fading away. I’m good. Too much boring work, but what can you do? ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, nice! I’m currently reading galleys of a couple of novels that come out early next year — Richard Cheim’s ‘King of Joy’ and Mark Doten’s ‘Trump Sky Alpha’, both superb, and the Thomas Moore/Stephen Purtill collab. book ‘Small Talk at the Clinic’, which also is great. You enjoy your weekend very maximally! ** Steve Erickson, I did find myself spending even less time with Facebook open on my desktop than even usual yesterday, fearing the worst. Curious about ‘The Fog’. I saw it on release back when and thought it was very weak, but it seems to have accrued a lot of cult love, so I’m wondering if I was an ignoramus or something. Sounds interesting: your script moves. I hope your imagination explodes an ending. ** James Nulick, Hey there, Mr. N! Thank you. I’m good. The TV script writing is laborious but in motion. I ain’t no screenwriter. I’m just building wordage for Zac’s and Gisele’s and my projects as usual, although this script is such a trudge it does feel at the moment like I’m doing it for the money but without the money part. Yes, Mr. Champagne, I think, informed us of said forthcoming book and even about the sweet dedication. Very excited for that, man! I know I’ll like it, James. I ain’t no fool. You go to Japan soonish, yes? Love back at high volume. ** Bill, Hi. I thought so too. Jane Addams Books looks extremely visitable and shoppable. True, Molinaro seems to be kind of lost these days. And there’s so little of hers on the net that making a post will be tricky, but I think I figured it out, and I’m going to give it the old college try this weekend. Speaking of, have a great one! ** XTX, xTx! Holy moly, my dear friend and genius scribe, it’s so, so good to see you! I miss you! What are you up to? What’s happening? Are you doing Halloween in some hugely fun fashion? I’d love to catch up! Can we type at each other or talk phone-wise or Skype or something? T’would be amazing! Tons of love! ** Okay. You know what you have in store locally this weekend, and why don’t you get to it and/or back to it? See you on Monday.