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Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk, by Tony DuShane


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I dunno. I almost don't want to bring it up. But I went to a lit event recently and there were these postcards scattered all over the place (pretty sure I saw the author around). I saw 'dark coming-of-age', 'religion and sex', and 'Jehova's Witness' and thought of this group here. Here's the writeup:

A dark coming-of-age comedy that goes behind closed doors into the rarely-glimpsed world of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Gabe is a teenage Jehovah's Witness convinced God is going to kill him at Armageddon for masturbating.

But Gabe's not alone: There's his best friend Peter, who writes obscenities in the margins of his Watchtower; Jin, the Korean kid in the congregation, who subsists on Ho Hos and Doritos; and Camille, who follows Gabe around, trying to be his girlfriend. When he falls in love with Jasmine, Camille's beautiful older sister, things only get more complicated.

Meanwhile, the adult world around him seems to be going from mildly absurd to full-blown dysfunctional. His dad is an elder in the congregation who decides the fate of sinners (like the married couple who confess to accidentally having anal sex), while his mother waits for happiness on the other side of Armaggedon.

Fearing eternal damnation and caught in the only belief system he has ever known, it is up to Gabe to find a path to romance, love, sanity, and something like happiness.

Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk is Tony's debut novel.

A typical endorsement says that the book "captures the ache of an adolescent heart drunk on a combustible cocktail of Jesus, hormones, and visions of escape. You'll pull for this most sympathetic hero and hope he finds a god of his own."

His writing as found on the internet is, at first blush anyway, alternately pretty okay and gushy. Every once in a while something strikes as funny or somewhat surprising. It's plain he's no longer a believer and is still a fairly depressed fellow, though coping--in part, perhaps, by writing in the continuously self-referential vein, the long tail of the figuring-stuff-out approach.

What I find interesting is the theme of (ravenous, pubescent) sexual desire alongside religious conviction. Based on the synopsis and reviews, I don't anticipate it approaching The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man levels with that issue, but it's an inherently intriguing one. Again, though, I don't know. Maybe he surprises. Anyone read it? Or planning on it?

Edited by D.N.
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