Jessica Z. by Shawn KlomparensJessica Z. by Shawn Klomparens

Jessica Z.

byShawn Klomparens

Paperback | June 24, 2008

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Welcome to Jessica's world...

When Jessica Zorich met a tall, charismatic artist at a San Francisco party, her life had been all about coping: with a baffling and dangerous world, with a mostly inane job, and with a sweet but meandering relationship with her upstairs neighbor. But Josh Hadden doesn’t cope: he’s a man of action, of big visions, and of relationships that span the globe; a man certain of his passions, politics, art, and desire. And what Josh desires most is Jessica—at a time when being desired might be the most desirable thing of all.

In this daring, mesmerizing debut, a novel that brilliantly captures the angst of a generation, Jessica gives herself over to an erotic, reckless relationship with a man guarding deep secrets—and to a perfect storm of lust, doubt, joy, and fear. Now, against her better judgment, she is following Josh into his mystifying life and brilliant, dizzying work—where she will find out how much she has been missing, how far she has yet to go, and what the price of this intoxicating adventure will be.…
Shawn Klomparens lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with his wife and two children. He is currently at work on his next novel.
Title:Jessica Z.Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.5 × 5.12 × 0.62 inPublished:June 24, 2008Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385342004

ISBN - 13:9780385342001


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oh, wow, loved it Jessica seems to have it all. A job in advertising that she loves, a neighbour who brings fresh brewed coffee to her door each morning and close relationships with both her sister and her mother. Despite these pluses, she is not settled. That neighbour with the coffee is her on again/off again boyfriend Patrick. Her sister is planning to head off to the south Pacific to live on a boat and do research, and her mother appears to be the panicy type of mother who wants her children to rush home at the slightest hint of trouble. Little does she suspect that her life is going to change. A number of unsettling events are about to occur that will impact the people of San Francisco as well as the rest of the United States. About that same time Josh Hadden, a visiting professor/artist, explodes into Jessica's life. He takes her to physical and emotional places she's never been and didn't know that she wanted to reach. With each page of this story I was pulled further in. Somehow, from its everyday start, it got better and better. I liked reading about and following the relationships of the various characters: Jessica and Patrick/Josh, sister Katie and her tall doctor, Patrick and Gertrude, and was intrigued by the PitchBitch Blogger. This story could happen in any city, with any group of friends/neighbours/co-workers. The randomness that occured in this novel is not something you can plan for nor can you seek it nor avoid it. I think that is what kept me on the edge of my seat, not knowing where Mr. Klomparens was going to take me next. I am definitely looking forward to his next book.
Date published: 2010-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jessica.Z by Shawn Kloparens I was asked by Catherine McKenzie to take part in a great new thing. "I bet we can make a book a bestseller" (which can be found on both Facebook and Goodreads) I'm a little behind the rest of the gang but I'll get to that in a minute. First book on the list was Jessica Z by Shawn Kloparens. Plot: Jessica writes for online ads, her sister Katie is working towards her PhD, and their lives are smooth until Jessica meets Josh, an artist. Agreeing to work with him on a still life project, Jessica ends up becoming more then just his muse. Meanwhile, their city has become the base of political upheaval as bombs are being set off everywhere. Can she really trust her new friends or will they lead her down the wrong path? Now, let me tell you why I'm like two weeks behind the rest of the group on this book. It's just too real. I was commenting to friends that the first half was as if pieces of my life were there in this story. The lead character has a job working online doing promos and ads, she has a younger sister, survivor of a broken family, worked a few times as a model, and the three main men in her life are named Patrick, Josh and Danny. I was un-nerved a little with the similarities to my own life and had to step away from this novel. There are two plot twists I did not see coming. We're set up with a rival co-worker/love interest of her sort of boyfriend Patrick, who you're not really sure that you should be trusting. I thought it was a beautiful use of the modern Frenemy element. The character of Josh was also a great elemental plot twist. A rich character who straddles the line between lost little boy and mesmerizing control freak. The idea that he's breaking through the modern scope of what is considered art and science lends to a subplot all its own that weaves you up like a cocoon. The addition of Emily, Josh's sister midway through suggests a thread of Jane Austen in it's Victorian sensibilities. Secrets exposed and loves revised. This is another very modern novel that could easily translate into any decade or century. Communication being the key element through out in all it's forms. The decisions Jessica has to make are ones that seem to plague every modern woman right now, lest of all how much freedom to give up to her new life as it seems to blast away her old one. This novel drew me in and gripped me wholly, leaving me smiling and agreeing and at times in shock. I had to keep reminding myself that these three women, (Jessica, Katie and Emily) who are so real at times, were written by a man. I have rarely found novels where this formula has worked so well. Jessica Z was a surprising story that left me breathless.
Date published: 2010-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A spellbinding read Jessica Z. is set in an alternative, post-9/11 future (a flash-sideways for all you Lost fans out there) where our security concerns are more than justified. You see, people are blowing up buses in San Francisco at regular intervals, shaking the world, and reshaping people’s lives in an instant. Against this tense background, we meet Jessica, a woman in her late twenties who’s struggling to find her place in the world. She’s involved in a dysfunctional way with her upstairs neighbor, Patrick. They are clearly desperately in love, but neither can come out and say it and both thinks the other is the reason things aren’t working out. So Jessica imposes a rule – no more sleeping together. And soon after, she meets Josh, a controlling and gifted artist. They become involved, almost against Jessica’s better judgment, and she becomes the focus of Josh’s next project – a map of the human body, hers. As the slow, and sometimes embarrassing, process of mapping her progresses, Jessica becomes increasingly concerned about Josh, and his influence over her. He is so certain about everything, it shuts out everything else, even her. She knows she needs to break free of him, but breaking up is hard to do. And then something literally knocks her sideways and she’s faced with a whole new set of problems and suspicions. Can she fix herself and find her way back to Patrick? I enjoyed this novel very much. Klomparens creates a realistic female voice in this first-person present narrative, so much so that I doubt you’ll remember a man wrote the book for much of it. It is by turns funny, poignant, interesting and touching. It made me laugh and, I admit, cry – it made me feel. Klomparens also weaves tension and suspicion throughout the story, particularly in the latter sections. Because the book just starts at a particular moment in Jessica’s life, no explanation is given for the state of the world, it just is. This creates some (intentionally, I think) disorientation, which keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning page after page. This book might be a little hard to categorize, genre-wise, but that’s not a problem for me. It’s just good. Read it.
Date published: 2010-07-03

Read from the Book

Chapter OneThe morning is not quiet. There is no extra rest. The construction on my street begins, like it has every other workday morning this spring, at seven a.m., but even that is preceded by an hour of the workers drinking their coffee and talking so loudly that they may as well be in here with me four floors up. Today they seem to be discussing one of their coworkers.Carlos almost got in big trouble last night, they're saying.Carlos nearly got into a fight with some soldiers at that bar.Did you hear about Carlos?I pull a robe over my shoulders, and, in the apartment above me, I can hear Patrick moving around. The construction noises have him awake too. I listen to him up there, doing this, doing that. Footsteps. There's the sound of him turning on his shower, the rush of the pipes and the gurgle of the drain rumbling through the mysterious space between my ceiling and his floor. I go to my own bathroom, start my own shower, and get in. With the water running, I can't hear the jackhammer on the street.Patrick comes down, as he has almost every day before work for the past two and a half weeks. He enters without knocking, while I'm making toast, with a pair of bowl-sized mugs filled with brownish foam. Since I knew he'd be coming, I'm toasting two slices of bread."I think I got it, Jess," he says, handing me one of the giant mugs. "Finally. I really think I got the milk-frothing thing. Got it down. Try. Try it."I take a sip, and it isn't so bad. "This is . . . a cappuccino?"He seems a little disappointed that I'm not sure what it is. Patrick had a restaurant-grade espresso-making device installed in his kitchen a week ago today. "I was going for latte.""It's a little strong, like, the coffee is strong," I say. "It's strong flavor." Patrick frowns. "But it's good!" I add, to make him happy, and he sits down at my kitchen table and pokes at the foam in his mug with an index finger."Maybe it's the grinder," he says."You want toast?""What? Oh, sure. Please." There's a foam stalactite on his finger now."How much did you pay for that thing, Pat? The espresso maker machine.""Does it really matter?" He's not angry. He's been doing well at work, and the purchase of new kitchen stuff lets him show it."Well, how many lattes could you buy at Tommie's before you equaled what you paid for it?""You're missing the point," he says. He holds the mug out toward me and almost smiles. "It's not about money, right? It's about the pleasure of making something. It's about quality control."I raise my eyebrows and peer into the coffee. "This is quality?""You suck. Did you hear about Carlos?""Sounds like Carlos nearly got into some trouble.""Sounds like Carlos nearly got his ass kicked.""Which one is Carlos, anyway?"I place a piece of toast on one of my old blue plates on the table in front of him. He smells like soap and morning, and I can't help putting my hands on his shoulders to knead the muscles there."Wait, wait, wait," he says."What?""This violates the rule, for sure." He shoos my hands away."A neck rub?""Total violation.""Seriously?" I slap my hands down at my sides. "Damn it, Pat, you're impossible.""You made it, Jess. I'm just adhering. I know what neck rubs can lead to."Rules get made, I suppose. Maybe they are made too hastily. Out of necessity, though, they are made.My rule has been in effect now for almost three weeks, and, by all standards of measurement, it appears to be having its intended effect. Patrick has not spent the night in my apartment in all of that time, and it's been even longer since I've gone upstairs to sleep at his.The rule is working. Shouldn't I be happy with this?Though nothing has been formally written out, we've silently agreed that normal visitations during standard daytime and early evening hours are permissible. Dining together is allowed, as is morning coffee. We watch the news, and sometimes cooking shows, together on my TV, and we go out to movies and bars and restaurants. Sometimes, when we stumble home, we hold hands. But sleeping together, or any other activity that might lead to sleeping together or to any of the multitude of activities that can occur in bed, is strictly forbidden. This is the heart of the rule. And as the creator of the rule, I guess I should stick to it.Now toast is finished, coffee is finished, and Patrick takes his two big mugs and goes upstairs to get his computer bag. I wait for him on the landing in front of my door, and then we go down the steps and out of our building together. There on the sidewalk in front we lean in close like we're almost going to kiss, like we're almost something, but we don't, and we aren't. There's a rule, after all."Talk tonight?" he says."Of course.""Dinner? I can cook.""Yes. Should I pick anything up?"He shrugs. "I'll call you today. We can figure it out." Then we lean in again and he smiles, and he turns away and heads up the hill to get his train and I go off the other way down to my bus stop.The ride to my office is lurching and sleepy, and at one of the stops a kid with a messenger bag takes the seat next to mine and immediately starts exchanging—with a completely bored look on his face—sexually explicit text messages with someone on his phone. He has no idea I'm reading them, and I try to remember some of the more choice ones to e-mail to my sister.I make it to my office about ten minutes after nine. Mike, my boss, is there, as is Laurie, the new intern who hasn't yet figured out that Mike doesn't care too much about worker punctuality. I spend some time responding to e-mails, printing documents, moving paper. Doing nothing. I start to compose a message to my sister to tell her about my texting bus mate, but I'm interrupted by my e-mail program chiming to let me know there's a new message from one McAvoy, Patrick. The subject reads: "CLARIFICATION?"He wants to know if neck rubs should, in fact, be exempt from the rule. I laugh at this, but then I stop: there's a thump, a boom, far away but still the kind of sound you feel inside your chest. A moment later my boss runs past my desk shouting, "What the hell was that?" Laurie, follows him, and peeks into my cubicle with a startled look on her face."What was that?" she asks. "Did you hear that sound?"Of course I heard it. Already, in the sound, I know that the day is going to be not quite right. We all know what it was.Chapter Two After my bag drops and my shoes are kicked off, and my coat is thrown to the floor and the blinds that I didn't pull up this morning are opened and then closed again, the first thing I see when I'm back home is the blinking number on the answering machine.Thirty-seven. Thirty-seven. Thirty-seven.I've come to expect, after things like this, that a sizable percentage of everyone I've ever known will call and leave a message, hope I'm okay, and ask me to call when I get a chance. My mother will call. My absent father will too. College professors, former coworkers, and ex-boyfriends not seen since forgotten dormitory romps will leave messages letting me know they're thinking of me and wondering if I'm okay.Am I okay?They just want in on the action, I think.The first couple messages are from early, before things turned not normal. The machine announces the time. Eight fifty-one, and my friend Amy is planning a birthday party for Alexei. Nine-ten, don't forget your dental appointment tomorrow. Nine forty-nine, Amy remembers to tell me that I should bring a bottle of wine tomorrow night. I delete the messages, stabbing at the button with my index finger, until the machine announces message six, left at ten twenty-two, which, as I've gleaned from conversations with everyone else walking home after being stranded by all transit shutting down, is seven minutes after it happened.As expected, it's my mom."Jessica, honey, I heard something's going on out there, please call me when you can. I love you, call me soon, okay?"My mother "hears" about things going on in roughly the same way a buzzard "hears" an antelope or something might be keeling over soon on the savanna: she circles the news channels, constantly, looking for some misery to feast on. She's a glutton for fear, my mom. And if I'm involved, even just by proximity, it becomes so much better than the garden variety tidal wave or child stuck in a mine shaft; now she can say to her friends: "Well, my daughter says . . . my daughter says . . . my daughter Jessica who was right there said . . ."And just like that, she's part of the action.She does sound a little afraid, though. And on messages seven, eight, ten, fourteen, fifteen, seventeen, and twenty through twenty-four, she sounds increasingly frantic."Jessica, honey, Jessie, please, please call me, your cell goes right to voice mail. . . ."Cell phones are a joke when these things happen. On the walk back from my office, in the shuffling crowd that had spilled off the sidewalk and onto the street, I had an interesting conversation with a very large man who claimed to be a telephone engineer. He was bald and black, and, by the way he was breathing, seemed unused to walking any significant distance. He told me that during events like this the cellular network gets shut down, "for security reasons, man." He said that "they" close it down to keep "them" from coordinating anything further.I don't buy it, though. If a city of a hundred thousand is sent walking home, that means—and I know this is a rough estimate—at least a hundred thousand moms calling, jamming every circuit and rendering all wireless communication systems useless.Now a message from my old college roommate Carrie plays (are a hundred thousand former roommates calling too?), and through squeals of "ohmigod, Jess, are you okay, ohmigod!" I hear helicopters fly over our building. Then I hear someone running up the stairs."Hey, Jess?" It's my downstairs neighbor Danny yelling through the door. "Your mom called me, she was trying to find you.""Thanks, Danny." Then, by force of habit, survivor's etiquette, I guess, I ask: "Are you alright?""I didn't even know it happened until your mom told me. I was asleep.""I'm sorry.""It's no problem." Then he pounds back off down the stairs and I hear his door slam below me. Danny grew up in Israel, and I suspect that the tone of the call he got from his mom was somewhat different. She's had enough action.Then I think: my mom has Danny's number? I ponder this as the phone rings, and the caller ID renders a greeting unnecessary."Mom.""Oh, Jessie," she sobs. "Jessie, you're okay, oh honey, you're okay.""I'm fine, Mom. It wasn't . . . It didn't happen anywhere near where I was.""I kept trying to call—""I know, Mom. They shut the city down. I had to walk home." She just cries for a little bit. I feel bad for her, and a little embarrassed. She's really upset. "It took a while to get back here," I go on, "but I'm staying put.""I don't know where anything is there, one of them could have been close, they showed all four places but I don't really know where your office—"Four places."Four places? What?""The four places. The buses, there were four that blew up. Big . . . the buildings . . . the bombs were big and the fronts were all smashed in on the buildings.""Four?""Simultaneous. Coordinated. On CNN they said they were detonated within seconds of each other." Mom calms down as she gets into the details.Four buses? I start to feel a little sick. We only heard the one faint boom at my office, and all morning I—and everyone else I walked home with—was under the impression it was only one bus, with a little bomb, that got hit on Van Ness. One exploding bus I can deal with, sort of. Four blowing up at the same time seems stranger, scarier, like falling in a dream or tripping on a step in the dark. It's an insult to my security."Four?" I say again."And Fox is saying at least a hundred people—""Mom, stop." My forehead and cheeks feel cool and my own breath feels rushed through my nose."That number may not be right. It could be less.""Mom," I say, then nothing else, because I can feel puke rising up with my words, my breath coming too easily through my throat. "I gotta go," I manage."Check in tonight? Call me?""I gotta go."I don't bother to put the cordless back on its base before crawling, literally, through my kitchen to the bathroom at the back of the apartment. The toilet seat is closed, and I kneel, resting my head there on crossed arms.Exhale. Inhale. With my eyes closed, each time I take a breath I'm willing it to pass. I take my left hand and pull the hair back from my face, and as I do I peek and see my freckled arm and the spot of condensation that has spread beneath it on the cream-colored lid. Better. The phone rings and I listen to the machine pick up."Hi, Jessica. It's Adam. Hey, we're thinking of you back here. Hang in there. Bye."I don't even know who Adam is.The bra I'm wearing is the itchiest, lamest piece of crap I own, but I'm too cheap to throw it out, and right now I feel too weak to remove it entirely. I reach back and fumble to unhook it for immediate relief, then pull a bath towel out of the basket under the sink and roll it up to use as a pillow. For some indeterminate amount of time, kneeling here with my head on the toilet and palms flat on the floor, I feel blank. Something like rest, something like sleep.When finally I lift my head from the toilet and pull away a hair that's gotten stuck to the corner of my mouth, I feel as though I've slept a couple hours, but the toothpaste-splattered alarm clock to the side of my sink tells me it's only been about twenty minutes. Aside from a stiff neck, I feel much better. My pajamas are where I left them this morning, draped over the hamper at the end of my beloved claw-footed, cast-iron, pre-earthquake tub, and since I know I won't be going anywhere else today I change back into them. The phone rings as I'm pulling on my sweats and again I don't bother to answer, but when I hear the message begin I scramble out to the kitchen and pounce on the phone; this is the one call I do want to take.

Editorial Reviews

"Shawn Klomparens offers an intense and startling vision of the near future where a young woman struggles to find a roadmap for life beneath the thunderheads of terror, lust, and art. Perfectly capturing the ubiquitous sense of dread in a post- 9/11 world dominated by violence and mass media, Jessica Z. is gripping, unsettling, and dreamlike. A dazzling debut that kept me anxiously turning the pages—and stayed with me long after the book was closed." —Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Black Out