This reporter first got wind of David Jauss as one of the higher-ups at his alma mater, Vermont College of Fine Arts (incidentally one of the finest schools this reporter has ever heard of). While he never studied directly under Jauss, this reporter heard a number of compliments afforded to the author’s advisement on matters like the craft of fiction, and was honored, accordingly, to be selected personally by Jauss as an advance reader of his excellent collection of short stories, Glossolalia, which is notable for its simultaneously vibrantly resonant and deeply contemplative tone. All 17 stories in this collection, available now to be ordered online, and from your nearest local bookseller, 2 of which appeared in the Best American Short Stories series and 2 in thematic collections, have appeared previously in literary journals, a mark of their distinction.
Jauss is a writer of extreme eloquence supremely qualified to convey a sense of place and developing action in the most literary and high mannered fashion. Some of the characters in these stories are grotesque on a level approaching the beautiful monsters of halcyon Southern Gothic magnificence. Some examples of this: In “Misery,” subtitled “After Chekhov,” a deformed stub of a man is tortured, with honesty by his employer one evening; in “Shards,” a disaffected teen becomes increasingly disaffected, meanwhile driven by his late father’s voice; In a similar but distinct vein, the title story “Glossolalia,” recounts a new father’s story of his own father’s psychotic break when the narrator was a child. All the horrors of reality turning inward on itself.
Some of the stories in Glossolalia (meaning: to speak in tongues) have won Pushcart Prizes and O. Henry Awards. Others have appeared in Best American Short Stories. Others have turned up in prestigious literary magazines such as StoryQuarterly, Shenandoah, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. Each one is a treasure designed by a master craftsman. The stories collected in Glossolalia have an impact with staying power. The author has a demonstrable mastery of detail and character delineation. Despite Jauss’s lack of conventional fame so far, each of these stories is a masterpiece of graceful force.