The J Girls: A Reality Show
Coming in June 2022 from Indiana University Press
A HYBRID COLLECTION
Jocelyn, Jodie, Jennifer, Jacqui, Joelle. Ignoring the optimistic advice of elders, these five working-class teens in the Rust Belt band together in their embrace of bad behavior and poor taste as they navigate sexuality and identity with loud-mouthed joy and clear-eyed cynicism.
Winner of the 2021 Blue Light Books Prize, Rochelle Hurt's The J Girls: A Reality Show is a tribute to the grit and glitter of millennial girlhood and a testament to its dangers and traumas. Hurt's creative, genre-bending mix of poetry, fiction, and screenplay brings the girls to life with campy performances of monologues, soap opera clips, mock interviews, talk shows, commercials, and even burlesque. Vulgar, rhapsodic language serves as costume and shield, allowing the J Girls to script their own images and project glowing, outsized versions of themselves into the safe space of the TV screen.
Playful and poignant, The J Girls is a flashy ode to performance and a nostalgic elegy for adolescent friendships.
Winner of the Blue Light Books Prize from Indiana Review
Judge Nandi Comer: "Rochelle Hurt has produced a cinematic anthem, a war cry against gender norms, and a sad reminder of how little has changed for girls traversing the rocky journey into adulthood. The strength of this collection is in the collective experiences where the body becomes an object of desire and the origin of resistance. These poems are unapologetic and tender. Part theater, part screenplay, part poetry, The J Girls is a genre-blending collection demanding the reader see these archetypes as real people with real stories and real unspeakable trauma."
"Empty Womb" in Memorious
"Wifebeaters" in The Awl
POEMS From the J Girls
Rochelle Hurt's collection The J Girls: A Reality Show is dynamite. I love the genre-bending. I love the poetics and trash celeb culture and satire and swerve. It reminds me of Euripides and Kathy Acker, and I can't wait for the book to debut.
~The Cyborg Jillian Weise, author of Cyborg Detective and Give It to Alfie Tonight
Brilliant, startling, and stirring, Rochelle Hurt's new book blurs poetry, fiction, and playwriting to capture the lives of a fierce group of girls in Ohio in the late 1990s. Presented as VHS tapes unspooling at a church rummage sale, it's impossible to categorize this innovative, edgy, often hilarious collection. Is it a TV script for the show we've all been waiting for? Is it a love letter to girls we kissed when the nuns weren't looking? Is it a diary, a ransom note, an ad for a sticky floral body spray? "Words get worn / this way: at festivals, we tuck our violence in / our bras with cash for cigarettes and pretzels." Hurt's gorgeous lines linger: "The sky bowed / behind you all afternoon, waiting / for permission. Girl, you / are a hall of mirrors falling on me, / you are the end of looking." I wanted to be part of this club, to kiss The J Girls and kiss up. This book lets you in on secrets whispered behind the door of a bathroom stall with a few too many sneakers underneath, and at least one pair of wobbly heels. Press your ear against the door and listen.
~Carol Guess, author of Girl Zoo and Doll Studies: Forensics
Like the teenagers at its center, Rochelle Hurt's The J Girls: A Reality Show is wild, smart, aching, and fearless. This genre-exploding book exquisitely captures the thrumming ecstasy and terror and guilt and bravado and tenderness and rage of adolescent girlhood. The J Girls understand that no girl is ever only one girl, and they claim themselves, in all of their iterations, again and again. This book is the bite-and-glitter I wish I'd had as a companion during my own high school years; I'm so grateful to have it now.
~Catherine Pierce, author of Danger Days