Black Lawrence Press

Pulled From the River

Pulled From the River

Vividly weaving memory, urban legend, and stark reality, Pulled From the River introduces some of Chopan’s most compelling and complex characters, those boys who inhabit the distinctive world of Rochester, New York. The narrator, arguably Chopan himself, takes us through a series of stories, fragments, obits, and letters all in an attempt to understand himself and his place in the city. Along the way we meet, a young man who takes his own life, a boy whose mother is killed by the city’s famous serial killer, and a man who, one night, dances naked in the middle of the street trying to erase his pain. These interlinked stories are narrated by characters raised on loss, and yet filled with hope and insight, grace and grit. Against a backdrop of alcohol, suicide, camaraderie, and hockey, Chopan explores the distance between the city’s greatness and its failures, between place and identity, between who we are and who we hope to be.


  • "Jon Chopan is the Chuck Close of fiction, synthesizing in his brilliantly vivid collection, Pulled from the River, these startled struck renderings of the hyper-real with the pins and needles pixilation of the minutely abstract. These tales are super-saturated, high-def, four D concentrated maps more detailed than mere actual actualities. Get ready to see and see, to see see-squared, see off the scale, see both the infrared and the ultraviolet and, yes, even more more."
    —Michael Martone
  • "Welcome to Jon Chopan’s Rochester, New York, and its boys and men. Welcome to a world of snow, Genny Beer, layoffs at Delphi and Xerox and Kodak, The Genesee River Killer, and the haunting memory of a childhood friend. Pulled From the River is a lyrical work of fact and memory, an elegy to a decaying city and a lost childhood. Jon Chopan writes with grace and grit about tough-guy adolescents whose hearts are still tender, families that forge strong bonds in the face of economic and personal crises, violence that changes lives forever, and the desire for redemption that pulses beneath disappointment. This is a story of loss, yes, but more than that, it’s a story of love a story carefully and beautifully told. Jon Chopan is a writer with moxie and heart. He may tell us not to believe everything we read, but, thanks to his veracity and precision, we do. We most certainly do."
    —Lee Martin
  • "Jon Chopan’s writing is artful, smart, poetic, and beautiful. His dialogue and scenic description are fabulous. Chopan’s novel moves gracefully from more extended narrative to lyricism and back again, making this book both vivid and necessary. Pulled From the River is the first novel from a significant and talented young writer who shows a remarkable empathy for his city and his people."
    —Stephen Kuusisto

Jon Chopan

Jon Chopan was born and raised in Rochester, New York, where he once believed he could be a crime fighter who doled out justice riding around on his silver and red bike. For a short time, after that, he believed he would be a BMX biker and become famous for some trick he had not and never did come to perfect. A lot of Jon’s dreams, early on, involved his bike. But that all ended when it was stolen, which was the first of many bikes to be stolen, because that was what happened to anything good people owned in his neighborhood, someone took it. After that Jon never dreamed of being Super Man or Batman or the Incredible Hulk. He knew that the world was full of injustices that could not be easily resolved. Instead, he has dreamt of only one thing ever since: retrieving the “Mighty Challenger”, with its giant headlight and silver bell, finding the culprit, and no matter how big or bad or even sorry he is now, kicking that kid’s ass.

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