Prosperity, a novel
List Price: 12.99
America has finally figured out how to make deadbeats pay up: the PROSPER program, a very modern, very luxurious debtor’s prison housed in a shopping mall. When curmudgeonly hobo Percy Rue first gets there, she’s as lonely as she is broke – and the only person who’ll talk to her is Lita Takewell, a drug-dealing New Age priestess she’d rather avoid. But when Percy uncovers sinister machinations behind the program’s helpful façade, Lita is the only one she can trust – and maybe the key to her survival. Prosperity is speculative fiction; social satire; a pitch-black comedy set in the very near future. It is a novel for anyone who has ever found something absurd – or maddening! – about corporate culture, cubicle jobs, debt collectors, webinars, infotainment, political activism, advertising, government assistance programs, billionaire philanthropists, shopping malls, Town Hall meetings, New Age spirituality, Big Pharma, bureaucracy, awkward friendships, celebrities, minimum wage, anarchists, video games, the criminal justice system, outsourcing, food courts, education, on-the-job training, privitazation, psychotherapy, or standing on line at the DMV.
Jenna Leigh Evans has been published in In Pieces: an Anthology of Fragmentary Writing; and in Ping-Pong; in the fiction blogs the Outlet, FragLit and the Nervous Breakdown. She’s a Barbara Deming grantee, a finalist for the 2012 Eludia Award, and a semifinalist for the Black Lawrence Press’s Big Moose Prize. She lives in Brooklyn. She was born in 1969. At fifteen, she dropped out of school and left home. Ensuing job titles include truck dispatcher, cleaner, farmhand, busboy, dishwasher, cashier, cobbler’s assistant, psychic reader, courier, housepainter, secretary, prep cook, stable hand, telemarketer, and (naturally) barista. She spent two years posing as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute to take classes with the pioneering postmodern writer Kathy Acker; to date, it’s the only formal education she’s had. She has lived in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Western Massachusetts, Maine, and, briefly, in a 2000 Plymouth minivan. Jenna Leigh writes: It took me nearly a year to save the money to produce this book. I kept the bills stashed in a paper bag, adding to it when I could. When I took it to the bank, excited to be able to send the money order to Dog Ear Publishing, one of the hundred-dollar bills turned out to be counterfeit. The teller held it up to the light, then tore a corner off. “A good copy,” she mused. I began to cry, which embarrassed us both. Sniveling, I told her to use a hundred from my account, leaving myself five dollars and twelve cents. In the context of my financial life, it wasn’t a small matter. I used to be on food stamps – in New York, jauntily named the SNAP Program. But recently my case was reviewed; and afterwards I got a letter informing me that my benefits had been cut off, for reasons explained so incoherently that, months later, I still can’t make sense of it. I didn’t bother calling to ask; everybody knows the recording tells you “all voicemail boxes are full,” and then hangs up. Listen: This isn’t reverse-bragging, I’m only one of – oh, let’s just say about 39.8 million or so – Americans living under the poverty line. What I’m getting at is that living this way is a tightrope act above a safety net that is currently more holes than webbing. Yet in our culture it feels socially incorrect, possibly unpatriotic, to admit it when a hundred bucks is a big deal, or to openly discuss what it feels like to weep at the bank. I hope it shows in Prosperity that I believe, above all, in companionship: in bearing witness and being witnessed. I hope my readers, whatever their economic situation, feel witnessed. And I hope they laugh, because I believe in that too.