Individual Author Record
Name: Joseph G. PetersonPen Name: None Genre: Fiction Born: 1965 in Wheeling, Illinois Sites:
Illinois ConnectionJoseph Peterson went to the University of Chicago and lives in Chicago's Hyde Park area. He has published many short stories set in the city.
Biographical and Professional InformationPeterson is a novelist working out of Chicago. His work deals with estranged working-class outsiders who try to find their place in the world, but who often miss it. His work draws from his experience growing up in a working class suburb of Wheeling Illinois and working in factories, restaurants and construction. He currently works in publishing.
- Beautiful Piece, Northern Illinois University Press , 2009
- Inside The Whale: A Novel in Verse, Wicker Park Press Ltd, 2011
- Wanted: Elevator Man, Switchgrass Books, 2012
- Gideon's Confession, Switchgrass Books, 2014
- Twilight of the Idiots, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, 2015
Titles At Your Library
ISBN: 0875806295 Switchgrass Books. 2009
During a deadly Chicago heat wave that’s claiming hundreds of lives, Robert, who’s stuck in his apartment alone, fears he’s going to be the next victim. In the apartment above him lives a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who talks obsessively about the corpses of his war experience while alternately listening to Die Meistersinger and Madama Butterfly.
Inside The Whale: A Novel in Verse
ISBN: 1936679019 Wicker Park Press Ltd. 2011 Inside the Whale: A Novel In Verse is an epic novel in verse that, in the spirit of Beowulf, imagines a bardic drone chanting the mnemonics of rhythm and rhyme to entertain, lyre in hand, a group of ruffians gathered around a keg of beer and the red-hot coals of a dying fire. It tells the timely and timeless story of a self-destructive artist and the tragic consequences he incurs when he sins against his talent.
Wanted: Elevator Man
ISBN: 0875806775 Switchgrass Books. 2012
Balladeer of the city’s broken and forgotten men, Joseph G. Peterson looks for inspiration in urban side streets and alleys, where crooked schemes are hatched, where lives end violently, and where pretty much everyone is up to no good. Depicting the lives of people who have woefully lost their way in the world—criminals and victims, the unemployed and unemployable, the neglected and the indigent, the lonely and the alone—Peterson nonetheless brings a poet’s touch to his work, which is redolent with allegory, allusion, and Nabokovian wordplay. His last novel, Beautiful Piece, garnered praise from across the literary spectrum. Enter Wanted: Elevator Man, his powerful and ambitious new novel and the story of Eliot Barnes Jr., a man at the end of his proverbial rope.
Haunted by the larger-than-life shadow of his father, a scientist who may have helped develop the atomic bomb, twenty-nine-year-old Eliot Barnes, Jr., is an apple that’s fallen far from the tree. Saddled with a useless degree in literature, caged in a rundown apartment he can’t afford, and embittered by his failure to live up to the future’s promise, Barnes, who dreams of a corner office—an aerie roost high above the city, working with the higher-ups—begrudgingly accepts a job as an elevator man in a downtown Chicago skyscraper. Thus begins a profound but comedic meditation on failure in this life, how one comes to terms with not achieving one’s dreams, the nature and origin of such dreams, and, fittingly, the meaning of the American dream itself.
As unflinching as Nelson Algren and as romantic as Saul Bellow, Peterson’s novel boasts wildly surreal plot twists and a lethal wit that frequently erupts into full-on hilarity. Wanted: Elevator Man is the perfect tale for learning to cope with diminished expectations in these dark and desperate times.
ISBN: 087580702X Switchgrass Books. 2014
In his fourth novel Peterson tells the story of Gideon Anderson, a young man alienated from his father and two brothers who have gone into the family business. Unlike them, he receives checks from his rich uncle every month. In exchange for the checks, the uncle asks Gideon to come up with a plan for his life, essentially a blueprint about how he intends to enter the job market. Gideon, who went to a prestigious university, puts his uncle off and spends the money on alcohol, the horses, and a miscellany of useless purchases partly because he doesn’t know what to do, partly because he doesn’t want to do anything.
Gideon then meets a lovely, ambitious woman, Claire, who encourages him to do better with his life and talent. She asks him to come to New York with her where her father can set him up in his firm or bankroll a business venture. Despite his good fortune in love and access to the steady cash-flow provided by his uncle, Gideon, like Melville’s character Bartleby the Scrivener “prefers not to” commit either to a career or to Claire. For ten years he just drifts. And then suddenly his uncle dies and Gideon has to make a decision.
The novels of Joseph G. Peterson have run a literary gauntlet from searing prose to lyrical poetry from noir style to full character-driven plots, and his work has drawn comparisons to Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. An incredible eye for detail and taut, lean prose are what readers have come to expect from a Peterson effort, and in this new book they will not be disappointed. Peterson delivers an emotionally engaging parable that will appeal not only to twenty-somethings unwilling or unable to commit and fit in, but also to adult readers who appreciate modern literary fiction and carefully crafted characters.
Twilight of the Idiots
ISBN: 193998727X Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. 2015 Know thyself and nothing in excess. Just as the doomed sailors of Homer's Odyssey fail to heed one or the other of these maxims, and end up getting turned to swine or lured to their peril by the singing sirens, so too do the doomed characters in Joseph G. Peterson's new collection of stories fail idiotically in one way or another and end up, like those ancient sailors, facing the prospect of their own mortal twilight. Set mostly in Chicago and by turns gruesome, violent, comic, lurid and perverse, these stories are suffused with a metaphorical light that lends beauty and joy to the experience of reading them.