Mitchell Jackson’s debut novel, The Residue Years, roughly follows the events of Jackson’s own life. In 1997, while attending Portland State University, Jackson was busted for selling crack and spent 16 months in Santiam Correctional Institution. At the same time, his mother was in the midst of a two-decade fight with an addiction to the drug. The book follows two similar people, Grace, who is once again trying to get off crack, and her eldest son Champ, who deals it and wants to buy his childhood home and bring his family together.
“The Residue Years” has a rugged and lyrical sensibility in its prose.
“Back when we were straight. When we were living with my great-grands in the house on Sixth, home, back when Mom’s checks kept me and KJ laced in new shirts and laden with toys, back when she kept a corporate job that paid a bonus, back then Mom came home at the same time day in, day out. I’d sit at my window and watch her pull up (we kept a new ride back then), and would book to the top of the steps and damn near implode waiting for her to sway through the door dressed to impress the world in wool-blend pants and silk blouse or a skirt suit with a broach pinned to her lapel, plus jewels you could hock for a new self on her fingers and wrists.”
After serving his sentence, Jackson returned to Portland State University, graduated, then went on to get two masters degrees, including an MFA from New York University. He now teaches at NYU.
Jackson’s book is the 2015 Everybody Reads book. He will be speaking at 7:30pm at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, March 10.