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Benjamin “Benji” Palko is just trying to get by, to fly under life’s radar. But random events keep happening to him and to those he cares about most that make him question what he thinks he knows along the way.

In this collectio(novel)la, Ben gets entangled in a strange and humiliating coffee debacle that results in a trip to the Emergency Room. He has a standoff with his d
Paperback, Rel. 1.5, 100 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Grey Sparrow Press
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This work could be called a collection of short stories or a novella. Either label will work and Joe Owens obviously likes them both, which is why they have been smushed together in the book description.

The first story, "Contemptibly, A Hair," introduces us to Ben Palko, an overworked IT and data entry specialist with largish pores, as he faces the dilemmas of dealing with a less-than-ideal office job. He is observant, critical, sarcastic and sensitive to the ridiculous traits of his co-workers
Sep 22, 2013 Nefariousbig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
It is absolutely necessary to add this awesome update to my pathetic review. Everything you need to know about JMO in a word: GoaT


Joseph Michael Owens sat down at his typewriter and bled. He writes with heart and soul about real life. About the spaces that get lost when you open your eyes and start your day. The sweetness that you long for when you close your eyes after your day is done. If you are looking for something to read that has the comfort
Chris Blocker
Aug 10, 2012 Chris Blocker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: un-mfa
I know Joseph Michael Owens. He's a great guy and conversations with him, regardless of the topic, are always interesting. Whether he's talking about string theory, tree nuts, or David Foster Wallace, Owens has such a passion for life that it's difficult not to listen.

Owens' voice comes through strong in Shenanigans!. No matter the subject—and he covers a wide variety of subjects here from nunchucks and lasagna, to love and cancer—Owens yanks in the reader. With a tone that is both casual and ex
Feb 12, 2012 J.A. rated it it was amazing
“Shenanigans! is the textual photo-album of Anna and Ben, language made to Polaroid the gentle tangle of coupling and maturation. This is a collection wonderfully tinged with humor, beautifully tempered with landscape, and soaked in the genuine.”
– J. A. Tyler, author of Girl With Oars & Man Dying
Joseph Michael Owens
Jun 23, 2013 Joseph Michael Owens added it  ·  (Review from the author)
UPDATE 06/22/13: Shenanigans!: Now comes with 100% more Indie-Book-Award-Finalist-sticker-action!!

UPDATE 05/20/13: I'm now officially listed at the Next Gen. Indie Book Awards for regional fiction -- 'tis all good, as they say!!

UPDATE 04/06/13: Big thanks to everyone who's read the book and offered their opinions! I truly appreciate the feedback; whether 1-star, 3 stars, or 5-stars, your time and consideration mean
Jan 24, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
I've heard that by the time Bukowski was really into the swing of things as a writer he had stopped reading much of anything because he did not feel that most of what he came across had life. It felt dead and, as such, was worthless. I can't really say for sure because I didn't know old Buk', but I believe he would have felt very differently about the writing in "Shenanigans!" If there was ever writing with life, "Shenanigans!" is it.

In some cases I mean this quite literally. The writing in "Con
A.E. Stueve
Feb 18, 2013 A.E. Stueve rated it it was amazing
I read Shenanigans! over a long weekend spent away from home. It was between trips to a burlesque, a comic book store, a wedding, and various restaurants that I managed to digest this magnificent little masterpiece. Owens' voice reminds me of Nicholson Baker's only where Baker (though I am fond of his writing) tends to stare inward and write pontificating essays where others would just tell a cool story, Owens does both. He does both, mind you, masterfully.

Good literature can really be boiled d
Mar 14, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing
You are very much caught-up in your own head, and the answers are not clear.

More -
Kyle Muntz
Sep 21, 2012 Kyle Muntz rated it it was amazing
This is a really friendly and endearing book. I know those are usually words to use for people rather than novellas, but Shennanigians! has a certain energy and humility that I really liked; the style reminded me a bit of DWF on occasions (especially the clever use of footnotes), but sort of pared to its emotional core. For the most part, it's rare for writers to do slice-of-life this well (which is generally something I'd expect mostly from Japanese writing), but Shenanigians! nails it; the mom ...more
Aug 25, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Reading "SHENANIGANS!" was like sitting down with a stranger with a cup of coffee and finding myself when I finished the last word,as if I had come to know a gentle,caring,extremely funny person & wanting to say "Wait,don't go!" The personal battles of his body bicycling against rain,ice and high altitudes in nature, or disease are described so you seem to see and feel what he was experiencing. Yet he also is not afraid to show with humor his ability to laugh at himself and invite you to lau ...more
Georgiann Hennelly
May 18, 2012 Georgiann Hennelly rated it it was amazing
Ben Palko is just trying to get by. But random events keep happening to him and those he cares about. The stories view the world with self-deprecating humor. At heart this is a young mans stories of Love and Loss, of Life and Death. Each one reads like a conversation. I look forward to reading more books by Joseph Michael Owens
Karolyn Sherwood
Oct 04, 2015 Karolyn Sherwood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
SHENANIGANS!, by Joseph Michael Owens, nearly demands its own literary category. It's listed as a short story collection/novella, but it reads like a memoir. I can't help but think that the stories aren't too far from the author's real life. I met Joe once, at a workshop, and I know many of the main character's personal facts to be pretty darn similar to his own. That being said, the adventures that the main character, Ben Palko, undertakes could be entirely fictional, in which case the book is ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Eliza rated it really liked it
"Shenanigans!" by Joseph Michael Owens was a fast read that left a lasting impression. At first the non-linear story line distracted me, not because I dislike non-linear story lines, but because I wasn't expecting it. However, with each passing chapter/short story I felt as if I were being allowed a brief glimpse into the character's private life. It was like experiencing the secret, guilty pleasure of being a fly on the wall. Ben and Anna, their relationship, their hobbies, their work, and thei ...more
Peter Tieryas
Feb 17, 2013 Peter Tieryas rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this and reviewed the book at the Lit Pub. Here's a little segment:

"With a title like Shenanigans!, I was expecting a lot of mischief in this collection of nine short stories by Joseph Michael Owens. I was surprised, then, to find a touching relationship at the center of the stories, a connection warmly rendered between the book’s main character, Ben and his wife, Anna. Commonplace becomes setup for epiphany, only the epiphany is more like a softly whispered melody, gently invit
Apr 03, 2013 Carl rated it liked it
Shelves: first-read
This book was for me a nice read. In the stories with dialogue it was like I was there observing what was happening. In some of the stories it was like a view into someones mind with what is going on. "The Year That Was...and Was Not" being my favorite of the stories. Really got me interested in the characters and the storyline of their lives.
Sep 27, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
I know the whole adage about not judging a book, but this cover is beautiful; I felt as if I were advertising a title by graffiti while I red the stories during my commute.

The artist I was most reminded of while reading this book is director Ang Lee. The first 8 stories strike me almost as snapshots, or at least gifs, offering hints and perspectives of the character Ben, all which alter our view of him almost imperceptibly until we reach the final and longest story, "The Year That Was...and Was
Sep 01, 2013 Noirscope rated it it was amazing
I've won this book via goodreads Giveaways and can't wait to read it. I have been on a short story collection and bizarro kick lately. I will update this review once I have received and read this book.
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Alternating Curre...: Book Review: "Shenanigans!" by Joseph Michael Owens 1 2 Jan 06, 2015 09:28AM  
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Joseph Michael Owens has written for PANK Magazine, The Rumpus, The Houston Literary Review, InDigest Magazine, Specter Magazine and Grey Sparrow Journal (CELJ’s Best New Literary Journal of 2010), where he is a regular contributor to its section, “The Campus,” and serves as an associate editor. Additionally, his short story “We Always Trust Each Other, Except for When We Don’t” was nominated for ...more
More about Joseph Michael Owens...

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