I Should Have Known Better is a sequel to the sleeper hit I'm Open to Anything (2019), expanding the original's scope and ambition. The new book has been produced entirely with the support of a crowdfunding campaign that reached five figures and 150% funding, an unprecedented accomplishment for a literary novel. I Should Have Known Better's first person narrator, while working at a dead-end job in Los Angeles during the mid-1990s, reconnects with his best friend Moira, recently returned from Central America, and makes a new friend, Bernie, who teaches the history of photography. The two of them convince him to pursue a master's degree as a way of escaping the unrewarding life of a video store clerk. Once the narrator is exposed to an academic environment, he takes a dim view of the education that art school has to offer, but is happy to meet a group of talented fellow students who become close friends. He encounters a number of art world figures, ranging from the brilliant to the abject, who disabuse him of his illusions. The narrator has his most instructive experiences off campus, especially a love affair with the handsome and mercurial Temo, an insolent rich kid who leads a double life. Together they explore their sexual limits in scenes of bracing explicitness. I Should Have Known Better bears witness to the last gasp of Los Angeles bohemia at the end of the twentieth century. The novel paints precise portraits of inspired eccentrics devoted to pursuing their dreams, "shopping artists" who believe in nothing but hedonism, and latter-day leftists who find themselves directionless after the fall of communism. Above all, the book pays tribute to the impulsive experiments and intense friendships of youth.
William E. Jones is an artist, filmmaker, and writer. Jones has published the following books: Is It Really So Strange? (2006), Tearoom (2008), Heliogabalus (2009), "Killed" Rejected Images of the Farm Security Administration (2010), Halsted Plays Himself (2011), Between Artists: Thom Andersen and William E. Jones (2013), Imitation of Christ, a catalogue accompanying an exhibition at UCLA Hammer Museum named one of the best photo books of 2013 by Time Magazine, Flesh and the Cosmos (2014), and True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell (2016).