Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries
by Julie Shapiro


Although they say that if you leave a million monkeys in a room full of typewriters long enough they will eventually write the entire works of Shakespeare, I can’t imagine that they would come up with Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries. This is a singular book, original in voice, thoughtful in tone.

The writing flows across the page like rivulets in a downpour and paints a picture in diagonal flow. Oftentimes the sentences seem to be heading into nonsense but suddenly veer back to surprise and delight. After an hour I got up and smeared Shea butter on my forehead for fear I would wrinkle from all the eyebrow lifting.

If you haven’t yet got it, this book is worth reading for the prose alone.

So how about the story? As a plot-loving reader (I hardly noticed that the characters of The Da Vinci Code were flat) I generally judge a book by its story. In this case, Brad the photographer is in love with Jen-Zen, a poet. Brad is obsessed with photographing single shoes that he finds abandoned in strange places. The shoes seem to be telling him something beyond mere complaints of athlete’s foot. Jen-Zen has had an accident and is trying to communicate from somewhere beyond. Can Brad use his photographer’s art to rescue his true love?

Although the term magic realism is batted about with near indifference to meaning, I recently ran across a definition by Janet Burroway in Writing Fiction:

Magic Realism uses the techniques and devices of realism-verisimilitude, ordinary lives and setting, familiar psychology-and introduces events of impossible nature, never leaving the tone and techniques of realism.

A perfect definition for Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries.

It is interesting - borderline eerie - that while looking for a publisher Julie ran across a real photographer named Randy Hamilton who was making a book of his own called The One Shoe Diaries featuring photos of single shoes. His work can be found at ( Fortunately the encounter was a positive one and Julie and Randy may pool their resources to promote their respective books.

Julie Shapiro is the Debussy of word composition – stretching the limits of prose (and comma use) nearly to the breaking point, but taking the reader along for a wonderful ride in the process. Julie is best known for her flash fiction, and has published dozens of flash stories and taught workshops throughout Southern California. In working the short shorts, she has mastered the craft of creating mood and imagery using scant words.

Jen Zen and the One Shoe Diaries will be released by in downloadable format as both an ebook and CD-Rom in October of 2008 (RELEASE DATE, and trade paperback (December 2008 from

Julie’s web site is (