"A wild roar of a novel . . . Writing about music is tricky. Ninety-nine percent of the time hearing the actual song or going to the actual concert is far more revealing than any paragraph describing it. But Jackson pulls off this near-impossible feat, pulling the reader past the velvet ropes into the black-box theaters and sweaty, sticky-floored stadiums." —Marisha Pessl, The New York Times Book Review
An epidemic of violence is sweeping the country: musicians are being murdered onstage in the middle of their sets by members of their audience. Are these random copycat killings, or is something more sinister at work? Has music itself become corrupted in a culture where everything is available, everybody is a "creative," and attention spans have dwindled to nothing?
With its cast of ambitious bands, yearning fans, and enigmatic killers, Destroy All Monsters tells a haunted and romantic story of overdue endings and unlikely beginnings that will resonate with anybody who’s ever loved rock and roll.
Like a classic vinyl single, Destroy All Monsters has two sides, which can be read in either order. At the heart of Side A, “My Dark Ages,” is Xenie, a young woman who is repulsed by the violence of the epidemic but who still finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery. Side B, "Kill City," follows an alternate history, featuring familiar characters in surprising roles, and burrows deeper into the methods and motivations of the murderers.
“At some point, I began to think of it as an ancient folk tale. It’s fine work, with a kind of scattered narrative set within a tight frame. Fast-moving throughout—fragile characters who suggest a bleak inner world made in their own collective image.” —Don DeLillo
"Destroy All Monsters has a distinct pulse—a kind of heartbeat—that comes out of the rhythm of the prose, the inventiveness of the form, and the willingness of Jeff Jackson to engage the mysterious alchemy of violence, performance, and authenticity. This accomplished, uncanny novel is simultaneously seductive and unsettling." ?—Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others and Eat the Document
“Surges with new-century anxiety and paranoia . . . A clear-eyed, stone-cold vision of what’s to come.” —Ben Marcus
“Jeff Jackson is one of contemporary American fiction’s most sterling and gifted new masters. Destroy All Monsters . . . is a wonder to behold.” —Dennis Cooper
Jackson (Mira Corpora) builds an anxious, deeply felt narrative probing a nationwide epidemic of murders of musicians. In opposing versions of the story there's an A side and a B side Jackson follows several residents of the nondescript city of Arcadia who turn out to be both victims and perpetrators of crimes. Side A finds Xenie, disillusioned with music despite her "mesmerizing" singing voice, and Florian, an anxious yet defiant guitarist, both coping with the murder of Shaun, Xenie's former boyfriend and Florian's old best friend. When Florian's bandmates decide to perform at a concert aimed at reviving the town's dormant music scene, the opportunity to "pay a worthy and genuine tribute to Shaun," who was gunned down while performing at a local theater, seems fitting. But as the concert approaches, bringing with it unwelcome reminders of the past, the characters are driven to confront their own twisted relationships to themselves and music itself. Side B switches Shaun and Xenie's roles as the mourner and dead, and cycles through a dizzying catalogue of musician deaths across the country gesturing at the murderers' motivations, including the sense that, ironically, "the killers wanted music to matter again." Infected with this eerie conceit, and expressed through gritty, sharp prose, the novel provides both deep character exploration and a nuanced commentary on music, creativity, and violence.