Books by State: New York

Jairzinho’s Curbside Giants by Jud Widing

“Nobody in Manhattan is having a particularly swell seventh of August this year. It’s way too hot, the subways are running late…and then, just before nine in the morning, a heavily-armed, well-organized militia descends upon the city with guns, explosives, and a seemingly indiscriminate bloodlust. Not a swell day to be a New Yorker, to say the least…but an especially un-swell day to be Jairzinho Navias.

That’s not just because Jairzinho’s having problems in his personal life (he is), or because he’s more than a little hungover today (not unrelated). It’s mostly to do with the fact that he’s a professional dogwalker. Which means he’s got nine dogs strapped to his waist when half the city – including the dogs’ home – blows up. Which, in turn, leaves him with a choice: ditch the dogs and find a way back to his place in Brooklyn…or keep hold of the leashes, and find a way to lead the dogs to safety with him.

The dogs, of course, don’t give two squats about Jairzinho’s big choice, or his failing relationship. They’ve got their own dramatic little doggy disputes to worry about; Why’s the walk route so jumbled up? Why’s Ducky being such a dingus today? Does Barmit like Meatball more than Kelso? And most importantly, what does all of this mayhem mean for their breakfast? It’s only a matter of time, as Jairzinho tries to wrestle his Giants off the island and out of harm’s way, that some of the dogs start to wonder if their most pressing problem might not be the agitated monkey-man at the other end of the leash…” –Summary from Amazon.

I LOVE JUD WIDING!! He has such a unique writing style; I can’t get enough of his work. For example, in this book, the narration jumps from the perspectives of Jairzinho and each dog from the group he walks. Each dog has such a fun, unique voice that fits them so well, not just tone of voice but also playing with form.

Plus, this group of dogs are all completely badass! They all have each others’ and Jairzinho’s back and, honestly, they kick some racist ass, which is something I was extremely excited about. Though **SPOILER ALERT** two of the dogs don’t make it… which I was PISSED about. Usually when a pet or really any animal dies in a movie or show I’m watching, I almost immediately hate whatever it was I was watching, but I love Jud Widing too much to give up on the book, and I was certainly glad I read the whole thing because it truly was a joy to read.

In regards to the overall story, it is really gut-wrenching and scary because it is something that isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. The members of the militia are not written as pure evil villains; they are human, a lot of them young and honestly pretty stupid most of the time, but they also show compassion towards people or animals that they are not targeting. Those moments are there because that’s just the way humans are. Every person has good and bad in them. Those small acts of compassion don’t diminish the atrocities they commit to those they deem not worthy, in fact, I’d say the atrocities diminish the few moments of compassion. The cruelty, utter lack of empathy, and hatred they have towards the people they have decided to target, for no reason other than they feel superior, was written so true-to-life that it did make it more real. If you read this and think No one actually thinks like this or would do these things, then you have blinded yourself to the way things truly are in our society (and you are most likely privileged and won’t admit it).

It also got me thinking about the aftermath of a devastating event like this, more specifically: journalism. Because journalists sort of leach off of other peoples’ suffering. They dredge up the pain and fear that the survivor’s are trying to learn how to deal with. I know reporting the news has to be done, but I feel like plenty of journalists don’t worry about anyone’s feelings, they just want to make it big so they go for the most grisly, painful bits they can. I don’t see how that kind of reporting would help anyone.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It had a nice balance of humor, action, and serious consideration of the terrifying subject matter. Honestly, Jud Widing is one of my favorite authors, and he is self-published so please go check him out because he deserves so much more recognition 🙂

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