Jesse’s Ghost


“A beautifully written evocation of the fierce and brutal underside of the California dream.”

— Al Alvarez, author of The Savage God: A Study of Suicide 

 “Jesse’s Ghost dusts up the Central Valley of California—the dirt and sweat of a Gerald Haslam, the drunken brawl of a Floyd Salas—as it haunts the offspring of Steinbeck.”
Dagoberto Gilb, author of The Flowers

 Jesse’s Ghost unlocks a past that is both dream and nightmare, revisiting a summer’s awakening that concludes with the darkest impulses of the soul.”                                          — Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Unaccustomed Earth

“I sent out for Jesse’s Ghost the other day via Amazon and read the book in three days—a lightning strike by my standards. I hasten to say how good I think it is. It revealed a world I knew existed but have rarely seen up close, and never in such detail. I guess the word is uncompromising. Really, a very fine novel made from life itself.”
Ward Just, author of To What End: Report from Vietnam

“A haunting, even archtypal, ballad of betrayal and survival.”
Donna Seamon, Booklist (starred review)

“Jesse’s Ghost is the first of his new series about the Central Valley, a geography that Bergon knows intimately and paints, as he does his characters, with a blend of beauty and violence.” — Tara Rae Miner, High Country News

“Bergon pulls no punches . . . with a hardscrabble eloquence that recalls John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie” — Nina Shengold, Chronogram

“The Great Central Valley . . . has provided the locale for everything from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) to Leonard Gardner’s Fat City (1969) to—more recently—Tim Z. Hernandez’s Breathing, In Dust (2010).  Now add Frank Bergon’s gritty Jesse’s Ghost to that list of memorable novels. . . . This is a first-rate novel.”—Gerald Haslam, Western American Literature 

Jesse’s Ghost is a beautifully written tragedy populated with compelling characters set in  a captivating landscape.” — Leslie Doran, Durango Herald

“Frank Bergon finds beauty in the valley, and not through artifice. . . . There is insight here into the lives of valley workers—the tools they use, what they eat for lunch, what they drink and how they fight and flirt is all here. . . . Bergon doesn’t romanticize any of it, allowing us to find a way into these lives.”

— Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

“Frank Bergon knows this territory well and reveals his character’s blindness with disturbing simplicity and dispassion, moving the reader to sorrow and empathy.”                                    — Leonard Gardner, author of Fat City

“I just finished this stunning novel. What a piece of writing. Every page sheer pleasure. A literary ethnography of the Okies. And the Dostoyevskian drama and the moral passion. It is a triumph of a book. It shows how critical literature is to a culture. Congratulations to Frank Bergon for this masterful narrative.”—Joseba Zulaika, Hellfire from Paradise Ranch: On the Front Lines of Drone Warfare

 “In rich, graphic detail so vivid as to generate a sweaty brow on the reader, Bergon casts an unflinching eye on the harsh realities of an agricultural community . . . with a voice of authenticity.”— Lori Gilbert, Stockton Record

  Jesse’s Ghost is a marvelous piece of writing, simultaneously spare and lyrical, and it taps into the blue-collar rage that burns so relentlessly in bars and parking lots and everywhere else that young men hammer away at each other.”
— John Schulian, editor of At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing

The harshness and lack of sentimentality seem natural for these characters and make Jesse’s Ghost a hauntingly believable novel.” 
 Alisha A. McCoy,  The Nevada Review

 “Readers, be warned: like its furious and doomed antihero, Jesse Floyd, who wants to die fighting and does, this book packs a mighty wallop.”
Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day

“For all the novel’s violence and tragedy, the tone throughout much of it is startlingly rapturous.  It throbs with a kind of joy in being young and alive and sexed-up.”

— Paul Russell, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov

Jesse’s Ghost reaches into one man’s history to disrupt the psychological haunting of the friend he murdered and finally to set him free of it. With a focus on a region that he knows personally, Bergon expertly captures the cultural geography of place like novelists Joan Didion and John Steinbeck did before him.”
Ann Hutton, Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly

“Frank Bergon’s fourth novel about the far West is a gem. . . . a gritty, lyrical novel that makes Steinbeck’s Okies look like the sentimental folk idealizations they often are. Tight, controlled, powerful, Bergon has captured an underside of California as no one else.”
— William Heath, author of Blacksnake’s Path

Bergon’s street cred is considerable, as is his feel for the language and dehumanizing behavior of his characters. . . . He dishes forth the torrid lives of Sonny and Jesse with a relish for vernacular language and highly charged sexual tension.”                                                   — Scott Vickers, Bloomsbury Review 

“Frank Bergon’s latest (and best) novel, Jesse’s Ghost, captures the American spirit.  It’s a Lewis and Clark expedition into how American souls remember: direct, unapologetic, and action-oriented—all wrapped up in an odd innocence that spawns forgetfulness, equivocation, and maybe even redemption.”— Peter Leonard, Poughkeepsie Journal                    

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