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‘My Heart Is a Chainsaw’: Stephen Graham Jones’s slasher scaffolding

Stephen Graham Jones
Gary Isaacs
Stephen Graham Jones

This week, Lauren chats with Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw (Gallery Books, Saga Press). High school senior Jade Daniels is the novel’s Indigenous protagonist, a slasher film fan living in Proofrock, Idaho, where Indigenous displacement and gentrification are anything but terrors of the past. Reviewers in TIME magazine write that “Jones takes grief, gentrification, and abuse to task in a tale that will terrify you and break your heart.” My Heart Is a Chainsaw is a meta-narrative homage to classic slasher films like Scream and Friday the 13th. Indeed, there are nearly 200 film references in this novel, hiding in plain sight, and they are a joy to encounter for horror film aficionados and novices alike.

About Stephen:

Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been recipient of several awards including: the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, and the Alex Award from American Library Association. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Stephen Graham Jones recommends:

Black Christmas directed by Bob Clark, written by A. Roy Moore (1974)

Halloween directed by John Carpenter, written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill (1978)

Friday the 13th, Part I directed by Sean S. Cunningham, written by Victor Miller (1980)

Friday the 13th, Part II directed by Steve Miner, written by Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson (1981)

A Nightmare on Elm Street directed and written by Wes Craven (1984)

Scream directed by Wes Craven, written by Kevin Williamson (1996)

Scream 2 directed by Wes Craven, written by Kevin Williamson (1997)

Scream 3 directed by Wes Craven, written by Kevin Williamson and Ehren Kruger (2000)

Scream 4 directed by Wes Craven, written by Kevin Williamson (2011)

Lauren Korn recommends:

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Gallery Books, Saga Press)

“Scream broke all the rules of horror—then rewrote them forever” by Aja Romano (Vox)

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Anchor Books)

The “fractured fairy tales” of Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead Books)

Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover (Princeton University Press)

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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