"You're gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine" is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the "rez," and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum. Jonny's world is a series of breakages, appendages and linkages — and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter and dreams. (From Arsenal Pulp Press)
Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit writer, poet and Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer.
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"Jonny is a character that's been with me since I was 17 or 18. He's this little kid obsessed with the beatniks and problem novels like Go Ask Alice. He came from poems that I excised from full-metal indigiqueer. When I took those little poems and planted them into this new idea for a story, Jonny took the stage and was like, 'Here I am — write me into the world.'
Jonny is the better parts of me, hyperbolized. From that came this shiny, glittered figure of light for myself.- Joshua Whitehead
"A lot of people are reading him as this hyper-confident, super-suave swindling character. But I had to craft a two-spirit character who has pain, but who is triumphant in that pain, shifting it into love. Jonny is the better parts of me, hyperbolized. From that came this shiny, glittered figure of light for myself."
From the book
I figured that I was gay when I was eight. I stayed up late after everyone went to bed and watched Queer as Folk on my kokum's TV. She had a satellite and all the channels, pirated of course. At the time, my mom and I were living with my kokum because my dad had left us thinking he was Dolly Parton or Garth Brooks or something. Queer as Folk aired at midnight on Showcase; I muted the channel, added subtitles, and watched as four gay men lived their lives in Pittsburgh. I wanted to be like them, I wanted to have lofts and go to gay bars and dance with cute boys and blow and get blown in a Philly gloryhole. I wanted to work in comic shops and universities, be sexy and rich. I wanted that.
From Johnny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead ©2018. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press.