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Jim Krusoe

Jim Krusoe is the author of Toward You, Iceland, Girl Factory, Erased, and Blood Lake and Other Stories.


"Jim Krusoe pulls off a balancing act between science fiction and subjectivity in this playful, funny novel."

– Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"He is never heavy-handed—his writing is too unpretentious, his characters too wonderfully peculiar... And this makes Girl Factory the best kind of novel—a wildly imagined tale with its own rules."

– Lauren Sanders, Bookforum

"Girl Factory is a humorous, genre-jumping, carnival-ride of a novel. It's smart, weird, unsettling, and downright fun to read. It's no wonder Jim Krusoe is one of Southern California's most notoriously daring literary icons."

– Mark Jude Poirier

"As with the best kind of horror story, Girl Factory occurs in a seemingly ordinary setting, and it's precisely the clash of the mundane with the horrific that makes the narrative so absorbing."

– Julia Scheeres, New York Times Book Review

"This book is not just funny—it's eerie, and vivid, and strangely sad, too. His work is full of the most curious urgency: I love to keep reading, and I don't know what I'm waiting for, exactly, but I know whatever I find will hover in my peripheral vision for a while after I'm done, and that's exactly what happened here."

– Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt



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Girl Factory

Death envelops this book like a turtleneck sweater.


Girl Factory starts with an incident to which we can all relate. Jonathan, a lowly employee at a yogurt shop, frees a dog from the pound and it immediately kills a boy scout. I hate when that happens.

In Jim Krusoe’s world, every decision we make is life or death. I was thinking about Girl Factory a few weeks ago as I stood behind a moving car and calmly told the driver to go ahead and hit me. In that moment, it was crucial that I stop this car from stealing the parking spot I was saving for my brother. For a brief moment, I was the kind of guy that was prepared to get flattened over something really, really stupid.

It turns out that Jonathan is the type of guy who will forego his own future to save six women trapped in suspended animation in the basement of the yogurt shop where he works. Warning:  This book contains naked women immersed in giant cylinders of yogurt. It’s also laugh out loud funny and very dark.

Jonathan is looking for a cause, something to believe in. In the opening chapter, he reads about a genetically enhanced dog that is being held at the pound. (Later, this same dog will help a blind man count cards in Vegas.) Jonathan doesn’t consider any options before deciding to rescue him. In his rashness, he releases the wrong dog and we already know what happened to the boy scout.

We learn about Jonathan’s old girlfriend, who may or may not be one of the women in the basement, and their college group honoring extinct animals. We meet a strange cast of characters including the owner of the yogurt shop (who is beaten to death) and Jonathan’s neighbor Captain Bloxheim (who dies alone in his apartment). Death envelops this book like a turtleneck sweater.

By now you’re probably wondering: Why are women submersed in yogurt in the basement of the yogurt shop? You might even be wondering why the yogurt shop has a basement. In Jonathan’s search for meaning, these questions are irrelevant. All that matters is that he save the women. And this involves a very elaborate process of getting them out of the yogurt cylinders and into a solution of water and liquid detergent in precisely the right amount of time. It’s so crazy that it almost makes sense.

With the whole death being a turtleneck sweater thing, you’re probably able to guess the success of Jonathan’s efforts. In one of the most telling moments of the book, he imagines he’s talking to the customers coming into the yogurt shop:

“You think you are looking at a contented employee of a comfortable suburban yogurt shop, but you are wrong, wrong wrong. Because the person you are looking at has been given only one thing to do, out of the countless things people can accomplish in life, and guess what? He can’t even do that.”

Despite all of the strangeness, Krusoe hits these moments of human frailty perfectly. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to save women floating in yogurt or a parking spot for your brother, every action is an opportunity to find out what you stand for. What if Jonathan had rescued the correct dog at the beginning? It would have been him that took Vegas for four hundred thousand dollars with a card-counting canine instead of that blind guy. And maybe his boss wouldn’t have been beaten to death before he could explain the women in the basement to Jonathan. And just maybe, he would have never found out about the women in the first place. The most trivial decision you make could change your whole life.

Or you might kill a boy scout.

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