Cleveland State University Poetry Center

A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich by Patrick Michael Finn

In A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich, Patrick Michael Finn writes of the disappearing Midwest, of Joliet, Illinois, and its factories and assembly lines and rail yards leading out of town. The tension and violence that mark this fierce portrait of urban decay are tempered by Finn's insistence that the people in this world endure. Finn's voice is striking, rich with the poetry of lives measured by time clocks and fistfights, and his novella seethes with dark and fascinating magic.
-- Michael Jaime-Becerra, author of Every Night is Ladies' Night

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from the book:
“Suzy soon stopped following the mysteries and rites of the service entirely and drifted into an imaginative comparison between the martyrs who lined the church and the suffering who lived, still-living, right outside in the narrow houses along Pulaski Street, the still living martyrs who weren’t painted high in the dome or sculpted standing sadly with flowers and candles at their feet, and who weren’t suffering for anything bigger than Pulaski Street itself. . . . a statue for Fat Kuputzniak, who suffered to keep the Zimne Piwo Club standing with his bottomless kegs and bottles, bearing in pious presentation a rag and a glass instead of a cross with flowers. And then a special altar for Mickey Grogan, patron martyr of Pulaski Street’s many young disasters who, not yet twenty, trembled in withdrawal from drink and dropped rotten teeth, a bloodshot statue sculpted with a stupid wave and a rotten mouth and, tenderly open and loose at his side, relaxed fingers ready to grasp each passing breast. Suzy Kosasovich wanted to laugh at how stupid a church like that would look, until she imagined what her own statue might look like.”

A novella set in the working-class community of Joliet, Illinois, a dark landscape of factories, freight trains, barges, canals, and the foreboding iconography of old Catholicism, A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich follows an adolescent girl’s fierce passage into the consequences of adulthood. Suzy Kosasovich, sheltered by fear and anonymity, longs to be noticed and accepted by her neighborhood’s more dangerous inhabitants. And on Good Friday, as Pulaski Street’s reckless young gather in Fat Kuputzniak’s tavern to slake their lusts and hatreds, Suzy is shoved into an even darker pocket of the world, where cruelty and violence burst from the caustic furies of dim futures and dead ends, culminating in a night that will change her forever.


“Patrick Michael Finn has written a fierce and frightening, often gorgeously described, swirling, pulsing, sweating runaway car crash of a novella that reminded me of the darker works of Denis Johnson and Hubert Selby. A Martyr For Suzy Kosasovich is an unsparing look at the other side of the American dream; the collective rage that passes for friendship in some corners. While Finn’s characters are often short sighted and mean spirited, his luminous writing and knack for telling detail, makes their story relevant and unforgettable.”—Tom Barbash, author of The Last Good Chance

“In A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich, Patrick Michael Finn writes of the disappearing Midwest, of Joliet, Illinois, and its factories and assembly lines and rail yards leading out of town. The tension and violence that mark this fierce portrait of urban decay are tempered by Finn’s insistence that the people in this world endure. Finn’s voice is striking, rich with the poetry of lives measured by time clocks and fistfights, and his novella seethes with dark and fascinating magic.”
—Michael Jaime-Becerra, author of Every Night Is Ladies’ Night

About the Author:
Patrick Michael Finn was born in Joliet, Illinois, and was raised there and in rural Southern California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, and completed his M.F.A. at the University of Arizona, where he was a Dean’s Teaching Fellow. A winner of the AWP Intro Award and the 2004 Third Coast Fiction Prize, his work has appeared in Quarterly West, Ploughshares, Third Coast, The Richmond Review, Punk Planet, TriQuarterly, and Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Mystery Stories. He lives in Arizona and teaches writing at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.