WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE
From the Author:
LOVER IN THE NOBODY, LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY and WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE have been nominated for the Crimson Quill Award and the INDIEFAB (the INDIES) Book of the Year! Both LOVER IN THE NOBODY and LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY, have been chosen as Foreword Reviews' prestigious INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards finalists in erotica. In a competition with over 1,500 other entrants, it's pretty great to have made it this far. Stay tuned for the winner announcements at the end of June. Further, two of my books have made the BlueInk Review Best Books of 2016 list on Goodreads! Their list is composed of their favorite titles; books. I ask you to notify all your friends and followers of my books LOVER IN THE NOBODY and WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE, which are on this list. Invite them to vote for my titles, which will increase its ranking on the site. LOVER IN THE NOBODY, LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY and WHEN WE WERE INVINCIBLE are in the running for the 24th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards and the BookLife Prize for Fiction. Publishers Weekly launched BookLife to integrate self-published book reviews into their regular review coverage. LIVING COLORFUL BEAUTY is a finalist in the NIEA 2016 Awards! - The National Indie Excellence Awards. Thank you for your wishes for continued success in promoting my books.
-- Jonathan Harnisch
Author Jonathan Harnisch often writes about alter egos who live with the same mental disorders that he does, including schizophrenia and Tourette's syndrome. The protagonist of this coming-of-age novel is Georgie Gust, a character who has appeared in the author's previous novels as a sexual fetishist and even another character's alter ego. For readers who may have explored other Harnisch novels, it's best to think of Georgie as the blank canvas on which the author hangs his tales and not try to unify Georgie's mythology. Here, Georgie appears as an angry young man in the mold of Salinger's Holden Caulfield. He's been banished by his alcoholic mother to a boarding school in Connecticut and we meet him during a suicidal episode in a graveyard. Georgie experiences his mental illness as a literal monkey on his back; he is also dangerously self-medicating. The prose is as electrifying as it is terrifying. "Out of the wild jungle one day, rejoining me in full costume, the horn-headed monkey returns to its residence in me," Georgie says. "This time, it was going to try and kill me, the son- of-a-bitch." The majority of the novel concerns Georgie's relationship with classmate Claudia Nesbitt, and hijinks with his buddy "Fitzie." Georgie has thoughtful debates with his Catholic girlfriend about the nature of God and she encourages him to embrace his mental illness, even as his self- destructive nature threatens to destroy him. Much like the title character in Good Will Hunting, Georgie's redemption is somewhat expedient, but the character's voice is utterly compelling and Harnisch inhabits his troubled young hero with compassion and grace. A bittersweet postscript finds Georgie still struggling but determined to triumph: "The consciousness of life is higher than life, and the knowledge of happiness is higher than happiness," he notes. "And, that's what we have to fight against. I'll continue from now on to fight." The author's authenticity no doubt comes at great personal cost, but his writing is elevated by his personal experience. This story deserves an admiring audience.
-- BlueInk Review
A boarding school student with Tourette's syndrome looks for the meaning of life in this offbeat novella. In When We Were Invincible, a short novel by Jonathan Harnisch, a young man wrestles with depression and Tourette's syndrome, which together drive him to the point of suicide. A series of dreams and chance meetings, along with the possibility of romance and faith in God, pull him back from the edge. The book successfully introduces philosophical themes and gives a sympathetic picture of mental illness. Georgie Gust is a seventeen-year-old junior at St. Michael's Academy, a New York City boarding school. Other students mistake his Tourette's--cursing, stuttering, "grimaces and neck thrusts"--for substance abuse. He gets little support from his policeman father and alcoholic mother, but his best friend, Shawn Fitzie, and his girlfriend, Claudia Nesbitt, encourage him. Even so, depression brings him close to suicide. A little girl pulling at his arm in the street is his temporary salvation, and dream encounters plus theological debates with Claudia point toward a purpose to life. Harnisch has previously written screenplays as well as novels, and his strengths lie in imagining scenes and voices. The novel is episodic, going from one climactic or confrontational moment to another. It is weaker, though, at filling in background and providing transitions. For instance, Claudia's arrival in Georgie's life merits just two lines: "She was a beauty and quite mature. Met her off campus at this local dive in Midtown Manhattan the day before Fitzie's campus tour." Such a shorthand description means she is destined to be a two-dimensional character, functioning mostly as a mouthpiece for Catholicism. On the other hand, there are some quite creative set pieces, as when Georgie gets into a long conversation with a homeless man about dead pets or hallucinates a philosophical discussion with Jean-Paul Sartre. However, there are many awkward, unlikely lines of dialogue, such as "I didn't know you had so much energy inside that noodle of yours." Georgie's letters to his parents, especially, are formal and wordy, which contrasts uneasily with his slang-filled narration ("Some lame fruit loop spilled some major poo on my brothel stompers that night at my intense blowout"). All the same, the author-- who himself struggles with Tourette's--gives a convincing account of mental illness from the inside. Georgie thinks of his depression as a "horn-headed monkey" or "imp" that returns suddenly and without warning. Nevertheless, the hopeful postscript suggests that the love and purpose he finds with Claudia set him up for a successful future. This is recommended to fans of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
-- Foreword Clarion Reviews
A novella from Harnisch (Porcelain Utopia, 2016, etc.) relates the personal development of a tormented teenage boy. Georgie Gust is a student at an elite Connecticut boarding school who's troubled: he's afflicted with Tourette's syndrome and alienated from his peers and family. Within the first 10 pages, he demands answers from God and comes close to committing suicide. As the story progresses, he befriends a rebellious new student; converses with his girlfriend, Claudia Nesbit; attends classes; and in one memorable scene, hallucinates an encounter with philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Georgie and Claudia's letters and conversations, which cover the existence of God, personal growth, love, sex, jealousy, and other topics, take up an enormous portion of the book. These exchanges are often hard to follow, and Claudia serves mainly as a sounding board for Georgie's own spiritual and emotional development. One wishes that more pages showed the mundane realities of these love-struck teenagers, in addition to their reflections on "The eternal infinite thought." The rendering of Georgie, the book's prickly, strange, and smart protagonist, is significantly more successful. The character's descriptions of the world are atypical for an adolescent and sometimes hard to understand: "It's no boring comedy that gives me these apprehensions and inclinations;" he writes to his father at one point, "it's the result of a long strife with myself before my reason could overcome my passion or bring me to personal resignation to whatsoever is allotted for me." Yet his theatrical, combative nature feels deeply consistent with the mindset of a sensitive teenager who's been wounded by the world. Claudia and Georgie's relationship culminates in him movingly sharing how Tourette's has shaped his life, and a postscript shows an adult Georgie who's obtained some measure of peace. Pleasantly, the narrative is scattered with sharp, funny moments, as when Georgie ends a verbose love note with a short report that he's been picking his nose, or when he answers the phone, while holding a gun in his mouth, with the greeting "Hewwow?" A short work whose intriguing, sympathetic protagonist overshadows the comparatively murky plot.
-- Kirkus Reviews
An incredibly powerful journey into awakening, love, and loss, When We Were Invincible from Jonathan Harnisch has a literary voice which elevates it above the overplayed tropes that keep most coming-of-age novels from being in any way insightful or uplifting. Deftly merging the extreme and the sensitive with the challenges of reality, Harnisch chooses the right moments to simply observe and those moments to celebrate, beautifully capturing wit and tone to bring an intense range of emotions to the fore. Even his minor characters come alive with a perpetual allure that sways our sensibilities and allows us to reflect on our own lives. Readers familiar with Harnisch's highly acclaimed Living Colorful Beauty will know he wields an acerbic pen and disarming prose, along with cleverly nuanced observation, to create a prevailing sense of authenticity. It's certainly no different here, but what sets When We Were Invincible apart from his other works and warrants special distinction is Harnisch's social commentary. It's cutting and insightful, but above all, it makes you reflect on the inevitabilities of life and ultimately death. An infatuating page-turner, Harnisch has delivered another intensely powerful read that's sure to linger in your memory.
-- Book Viral