The writing in Greg Jackson’s first book of stories, Prodigals, is so bold and perceptive that it delivers a contact high. You know from the first pages that, intellectually, you’ve climbed into a high-performance sports car. Only one question remains: Will the author smash it into a tree?...Best of all there’s that sense — only the excellent ones give it to you — that whatever topic the author turns his mental LED lights toward will be powerfully illuminated.
Jackson is a virtuosic talent, and his distinctive, maximalist prose style alone will make Prodigals one of the more memorable debuts of 2016. The nucleus of his influences seems to reside deep within the last century, and his stories exhibit few of the tricks one associates with the MFA workshop. There are imperfections, yes. Not every piece lands smoothly, and the author is prone to dense, philosophizing paragraphs that will enthrall or repel readers based on their personal tolerance for abstraction. Some passages and voices are so manneristic that they teeter, at times, into revivalist parody...In aggregate, however, this collection succeeds in addressing a generation’s internal crises with remarkable comprehension and insight.
He dissects an elite whose privileges the masses would kill for — a former tennis star who wonders whether he really exists; a banker turned filmmaker undone by desire; a midlife divorcée starved of and repulsed by human connection — with a language both hallucinatory and philosophical...Despite some discursive repetitions, this is a profound allegory of our addiction to success.