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GOD BLESS AMERICA's Reviews

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"Ever since JJ Rousseau and his Confessions we've known autobiography is a perilous genre. The American writer Mark SaFranko boldly gets down to it with this unsettling novel, telling us the bitter story of a young Polish immigrant who looks very much like him. A harrowing childhood in a slightly crazy family, a working class area in New Jersey during the 50's and 60's, chaotic school years, troubled sexuality, violence and social frustration, lost illusions - this very blunt novel furiously tearing the American dream to pieces often recalls the harshness of Harry Crews and Bukowski's nausea. SaFranko does it with a cynicism and a black humor - qualities of greatness - that give an unexpected elegance to this desperate tale.
"A must read."
--- Le Figaro (France)

"God Bless America is strong stuff. Vomit, blood, piss. Guts. A barrage of insults. Raw sex. Love so absent the word has no currency in the world of this novel. All delivered in scathing, biting, acid prose. Mark SaFranko does not spare the reader in this brutal powerhouse of a novel."
--- Mary Dearborn, from the introduction to God Bless America

"For fans of Mark SaFranko's Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard (and who cannot be?), God Bless America offers a darkly comic look at the world of Max Zajack: The Early Years. Often tragic, occasionally bitter, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and absurd, SaFranko's latest is a subtle meeting of the picaresque novel with the coming-of-age confessional tale, told in a rollicking, gritty style that seizes the reader by the short hairs and yanks until the tears begin to flow. Think of Bukowski's bitter sweet Ham on Rye and Harry Crews' A Childhood: the Biography of a Place, only more unrelenting and better."
--- Zsolt Alapi (The Loose Canon)

"God Bless America is probably the funniest book I've read this year. There are so many idiotic situations, so much stupidity, so much light-heartedness that would be envied even by Zoshchenko. Yet without this sinister laughter, the romance would be totally bleak.
"God Bless America shows the great talent that Mark Safranko has, and proves God Bless America [is] a small masterpiece."
--- Ray Garraty (Live Journal)

"Mark SaFranko writes prose like a champion pool player shoots eight-ball - with grace, poise, and a seemingly effortless style and precision. What looks easy is difficult - honed after hours of writing, years of experience, and decades of getting it down. What we have before us in God Bless America is a perfect arc of narrative, a back spin to Max Zajack's childhood, a writer who doesn't baulk at life's existential and physical cruelties, a writer who banks on his humour to get him through everyday terrors, who fires a cannon across the bows of mega-publishing houses, chalks up a win for the heirs of Henry Miller, John Fante, and Charles Bukowski, whose sentences are beautiful combination shots, who doesn't know the house rules, who jacks up the quality level, and who - we hope - will soon be in the money, and racking up the plaudits.
"If you add God Bless America to the other Max Zajack novels Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard, then SaFranko has produced a superbly crafted and well-written trilogy - worthy successor to John Fante's The Bandini Quartet."
--- Steve Finbow (Bookmunch)

"God Bless America is a big slice of animal life, a slab of meat that you almost expect to see stir, such is the style which hits you in the stomach and grinds you and fills you up."
--- Rolling Stone (France)

"A scathing critique of the American dream...Tragic, sometimes bitter, often funny and absurd."
--- Xroads (France)

"For readers new to SaFranko, God Bless America is the perfect place to start, before casting into the older Zajack novels (Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard), as readers will get a sense of the boy before he becomes a man. For those of you already SaFranko fans, God Bless America will grow your love of SaFranko's fiction, for the novel is not only a passionate character study, it is also beautiful dirty realist fiction in the grand American tradition. The novel's title is bluntly ironic: the Zajacks live an American nightmare, rather than a dream; Max's parents are poor, embittered racists; paranoid, anti trade unionists; ignorant, booze-addled, superstitious quasi-Catholics with chips on their shoulders and short fuses that tip them quickly towards violence. But through all of this, they are also admirably flawed human beings and perfectly-pitched, honest fictional characters for readers who like the people they read about to be just a little messed up, depraved, and beaten down - like the everyman/woman so many of us are."
--- Matthew Firth (Front & Centre)

"God Bless America by US author Mark SaFranko is the third instalment in the highly acclaimed Max Zajack trilogy, following hot on the heels of underground classics Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard. All three novels are published by independent UK publisher Murder Slim Press and all three contain some of the finest writing to be found outside the rotting carcass that is the mainstream publishing industry.
"Fans of Safranko will be familiar with the Zajack character and the brilliance of the first two novels, but in my humble opinion God Bless America is the finest of the trio.... [It is] a book so stunningly original that it is certain to become another classic like its predecessors. A must have purchase for any head interested in new-wave fiction and progressive take no prisoners literature."
--- Joseph Ridgwell (3am Magazine)

"[God Bless America] is mostly reminiscence, punctuated by the impressions of screaming and yelling and flailing limbs, like a guy in an all-night diner sharing anecdotes over tepid cups of coffee. But the stripped-down sentences make the details work instead of obscuring them."
"God Bless America is a very funny, occasionally shocking, and extremely readable rabbit punch to the back of the head of the American Dream, and that's exactly what that little snotnose needs right about now! So go PayPal Murder Slim some dough. Then when you see someone reading that Harper edition of Hating Olivia on the bus next year, you can act all snooty and superior."
--- Nick Mamatas (Live Journal)