The Inugami Mochi

the inugami mochi cover
From Saddle Road Press February 15, 2016. Available through Amazon (United States), Amazon (Canada), Powell’s, and Barnes & Noble.

You can ask your local bookstore to order and stock it through any of the small press distributors. You can also ask your local library to purchase a copy and put it in circulation.
ISBN-10: 0996907408
ISBN-13: 978-0996907408

Saddle Road Press page, with media release and cover JPG for download here.
“All the many dead things cycling around us, images long gone, etched on the paper beneath. When we love deeply, profoundly, we do not know where one of us ends and the other begins. We do not know when one of us dies and the other lives on. We hope to not be the one living on. We hope to be the dead. As it should be. Here is Cecily and here is Dog and here is how they become one, teaching us how not to just see the world around us but to look at it with wonder. To abandon ourselves to it. To go into the woods and walk without fear of what we might encounter. What you must do is encounter. Seek out the guts as Dog would. Find yourself there. The Inugami Mochi is not just a beautiful book, it is an achievement. I hope you will cherish these words as I do.”
Myfanwy Collins, author of The Book of Laney, Echolocation, and I am Holding Your Hand
“Jessamyn Smyth’s short story “A More Perfect Union” made me laugh and twanged my tear ducts all at the same time as it impressed me with the sheer brilliance of the writing. That’s the kind of writer she is. Oh, and she is a lover of dogs and of human beings, separately, and even more, together. And a connoisseur of what women want in life. …There is so much on the market now preaching the necessity of getting us re-connected to the natural world, of realizing that we ourselves are part of the natural world. But [Cecily is] the thing itself… a 21st century person who loves an animal, who is herself an animal…I don’t know if the spirituality in this book should be considered animist, or what, but it feels completely convincing… I believe the moments of bliss, of oneness with Dog. I also believe the dark side, the risks, the drift away from other humans, the loss that shatters the soul…I salute Jessamyn Smyth.”
Alicia Ostriker, author of The Volcano Sequence, The Imaginary Lover, A Woman Under the Surface, The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog, and more.
“She writes like an archangel. Terrible and transformative.”
Ruth Thompson, author of Woman With Crows and Crazing, and publisher at Saddle Road Press
“The Inugami Mochi is a work of interlocking stories about a spiritual relationship between two beings who are profoundly one and profoundly separate. …It is a testament to Jessamyn Smyth’s enormous talent as a writer that she makes Dog believable as what he is, a dog, and as a being of spiritual dimensions, and Smyth is able to do this without falling into sentimentality. …precise and wonderful descriptions of the emotional landscapes … as well as descriptions of nature in New England and western Canada that one can see and smell and taste. The stories move back and forth in time, sometimes objectively, sometimes only within Cecily, while remaining anchored in the present tense… Above all, The Inugami Mochi haunts the reader long after the book ends. Jessamyn Smyth creates the reality of Cecily’s relationship so well that it takes over your own reality and makes you wish you could join the one she shares with the dog-god.”
Julius Lester
Photographer and author of Lovesong: Becoming a Jew, The Tales of Uncle Remus, Let’s Talk About Race, Othello: A Novel, The Autobiography of God, The Hungry Ghosts, and more.
A powerful advance review from Shivanee Ramlochan of Novel Niche, Bocas Lit Fest, The Caribbean Review of Books, and more:

Jessamyn Smyth’s new collection of fictions knows wilderness and human ruin. The Inugami Mochi takes its title from a Japanese folkloric family — one part fur, the other flesh. A bond in which the beast — the dog-god, inugami — functions as stalwart spiritual and territorial defender to her human, inugami mochi are frequently ill-perceived by more civilian members of society. So it is with Cecily and Dog, the partnership whose interlacing, overlapping stories together form the spine of the work.
Of spines, the textual alignment of these stories are set, or broken, to let the light of anguish in. Smyth arranges her texts with the anatomical composition of a body uncovering, systematically, its own portrait of ruin.
…At the microstructural level, Smyth’s lines are conjured to both devastate beautifully and rout any sickness of complacency from the text. …Smyth eschews ornamentation for the finer poetry of desperation …
…Smyth’s stories are more mirthful than this baleful tussling with nature, water and blood suggests — indeed, some of its bloodiest segments, such as the impishly-named “Copper T”, prance giddily into topics threaded with gore and gristle. … Leavening wry humour with sharp self-cognizance, Cecily guards her wounds close …
… The Inugami Mochi reminds us that we’ve stranger, even more durable relics buried within us — none so potent, so belly-to-spine embracing, as dog’s tooth and hound hearkening. Dog, in all his devotion, his canny prescience, his love of water and the throwing heat of his love: all this will make you not only adore him, but reach for the wilderness within your breast that you’ve been forsaking. …”

From Michelle Wing:
“I have a few books that I read over and over again, for the sheer pleasure they provide me. The Inugami Mochi has just been added to that list. If you love language, you must read this book. If you have ever been loved by a dog, you must read this book. If you love humor mixed with pathos mixed with wisdom, you must read this book. In short – you must read this book. Jessamyn Smyth’s novel about Cecily and Dog is much more than a dog tale; it is a story about companionship, about joy, about love, about loneliness, about loss, about grief. It’s like Tolstoy, but with fewer characters, and far fewer pages. …
Austin, Texas pre-launch event for THE INUGAMI MOCHI (Saddle Road Press) – January 8, 2016
Introduction of Jessamyn Smyth by Lori Witzel:

Here’s a clip of the title story:

Here’s an interview/discussion about the book(s), Annie Dillard, Marguerite Yourcenar, Anne Carson, Barry Lopez, the dog god, myth and story all the way back to Ancient Near Eastern origins, the nature of tragedy, and the archetypes of transformation, death, and (re)birth at American Microreviews and Interviews:

“We know, on some level, that in order for there to be substantive transformation, some kind of profound boundary-crossing must happen. Those crossings cost a lot.”

Here’s a piece on the Squamish, British Columbia launch and a Squamish Chief arts profile:


Jessamyn Smyth holds her new book that she is set to launch on Monday at the Crabapple Café. Photo: Rebecca Aldous

Natural world inspires writer

New book explores relationship between an animal and its partner

The mile-long, dirt driveway through the woods served as a bridge between two worlds….

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