The End of the World Notwithstanding: Stories I Lived to Tell
Rife with misadventures, brushes with death, and moments of existential insight, The End of the World Notwithstanding is a hilarious yet reflective look at the emotional experiences that make everyday life exciting--and the physical ones that remind us we're lucky to be alive.
I'm traveling alone, renting a cabin at a normally tranquil spot--that's called foreshadowing--on the banks of the Big Laramie River at the edge of the Medicine Bow National Forest.
So begins Janna L. Goodwin's lighthearted collection of nail-biting stories, all true, and all of which fill the listener with wonder ... as in, "I wonder how any of us survives?"
Encounters with wildfire, insects, house pets, weather, gravity, predators, bullies, and the most potent force of all--fear itself--unfold in remote landscapes of the American West (and Midwest); on the neon-splashed sidewalks of Hollywood; at a Catskills summer camp for actors; in the lavish apartment of a famous senator; in a Hawaiian beach condo; on the side of a mountain above the Mediterranean Sea; and far beneath the streets of Paris. Goodwin looks for and ultimately finds meaning (if not security) in a clear-eyed acknowledgment of our shared, human condition--and in laughter.
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About the Author
Janna L. Goodwin teaches in the Communication department and the Mile High MFA program at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. She grew up in Wyoming, performed improv comedy for a few years with Moving Violations and other groups in the Los Angeles area, and--after living for a year in France--studied theatre at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York. She earned her BA in Film and Music from Hampshire College and her doctoral degree in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her plays have been produced by independent theatre companies on the East Coast and in Colorado. She has created and directed ensemble comedies for many years, including The House Not Touched by Death (Pilgrim Theatre Collective; the Ko Festival of Performance) and Just Pretend Everything Is Perfectly Normal (Playwright Theatre). Her most recent solo show, You Are Reminded That Your Safety is Your Own Responsibility, premiered at the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York, toured a bit, and provided the original material for this, her first book.
"Wonderfully detailed, every word the right word, this book is a genuine keeper." --Kirkus Reviews ***Starred Review***
"I haven't laughed so much since David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day. Janna Goodwin is the human wrecking ball of fun." --David Hicks, author of White Plains: A Novel
"The only writer who can make Nietzsche seem funny." --Gary Buslik, author of A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean
"This wild memoir is excruciatingly honest, hilarious in its Chaplinesque escapades, and deliberate in the suspenseful nature of each story. I found myself yelling at the pages, not wanting her to make that choice, or at least look over her shoulder. As she so precisely describes 'our learned performances of cheerful compliance, ' Goodwin exposes a vulnerable humility and belief in human goodness that to some could appear naïve, but to me conveys the strength of a Zen Master. She never rages against her abusers, against the weather, or the drunken driver. Instead, she reflects on the rich complexity of life and the deliciousness of being able to live inside it. This book is a beauty." --Fay Simpson, author of The Lucid Body
"This is the only book I want to read, again and again, for the rest of 2021. Janna Goodwin has succeeded in writing the Best Book of the Year without even trying. There is a philosophical destination here, but the road to that destination is forever and wonderfully forking. I was thrilled to be carried along for the ride. And what message do we need more urgently these days than to laugh at ourselves at the height of our anxiety, that the best we can possibly do is to say 'Oh well--ha!' to everything, and to be reminded that we will, someday soon, be eating peaches again?" --David Hicks, author of White Plains: A Novel
"Goodwin spins a comedic memoir that mines the absurdity of human experience, offering readers profound moments of insight. Because of her sensibility--self-deprecating and quirky, self-aware and intelligent--I would follow her anywhere." --Suzanne Roberts, author of Bad Tourist: Misadventures in Love and Travel
"Decades ago, new to San Francisco, broke but needing adventure, I began to surreptitiously follow and eavesdrop on street people who muttered aloud, explaining and justifying their lives to themselves and an invisible audience. I found a significant percentage of them to be perfectly lucid, often employing a word-perfect prose bordering on poetry. Those voices came back to me as I read this captivating, trance-inducing memoir. Goodwin exorcises painful chapters of her own past, while--and here lies her genius--commanding guffaw after guffaw from the reader, yet never diminishing the gravity of her stories." --Brad Newsham, author of Take Me With You
"Janna Goodwin's writing voice is so clear, so candid, and so self-deprecating, it's hard to believe she's not sitting in front of you as you read her stories. They're not always easy, they're full of doubt and some genuinely bad decisions, but they are so very human. She wanders a lot, as people do when they tell a story, but you want to go along for the entire ride." --Pam Mandel, author of The Same River Twice"Janna L. Goodwin's true stories lie somewhere between a memoir and a literary travelogue and reflect not just on adventure, but the life lessons they bring. It creates a journey that appeals on many different levels with a series of stories designed to entertain, educate, and delight. Each story holds the opportunity for readers to stay on edge not about the journey, but its ultimate impact and promise of change. Goodwin writes with a wry humor and insight that sets it apart from the usual travelogue." --Midwest Book Review