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Josiah "Duke" Harrist

novelist mennonite gamer teacher traveler

 

Hey. Like, thanks for visiting. My name's Josiah but most everyone calls me Duke.

I wrote a novel, and I'd like to think it's pretty damn good. This site is a launchpad for that novel as I revise and put it to publishers in the coming months. It's also a spot for me to build future projects--video games, wicked scripts, midrash--and is also my way of saying, "Hi, world."

So hi. If you're curious what I'm about, read on. Look below for bits from my blog and sign up on the mailing list for a sample chapter of my novel.

This is me.  Graduated from Wheaton College in 2009. Persistent writer. Formerly Anglican; Presently Mennonite. Grew up in Indonesia and Laos, worked as an English Teacher in Laos and Mongolia, proud resident of Chicago. I'm interested in dreams and faith, how games can ignite the imagination, in building other worlds with words or music or paper mâche. Principle influences include: David Lynch, Haruki Murakami, Don DeLillo, Faulkner, the backwoods, mental illness, Menominee rites, Jesus.


This is me. 

Graduated from Wheaton College in 2009. Persistent writer. Formerly Anglican; Presently Mennonite. Grew up in Indonesia and Laos, worked as an English Teacher in Laos and Mongolia, proud resident of Chicago.

I'm interested in dreams and faith, how games can ignite the imagination, in building other worlds with words or music or paper mâche.

Principle influences include: David Lynch, Haruki Murakami, Don DeLillo, Faulkner, the backwoods, mental illness, Menominee rites, Jesus.

"Situated in the midst of a rolling, ruinous mass of mountains and glaciers, Bayan-Ulgii province in Western Mongolia feels like the edge of the world. A small pocket of Kazakhs have lived here for generations, hunting and migrating with the seasons; unlike their fellow Kazakhs in Kazakhstan or China, their way of life has remained largely untouched by the surge and swell of changing dynasties. Ulgii Kazakhs ride horses, chase down foxes and train eagles to hunt with them. You can see it in their eyes: a ferocity, a pride in their unique heritage. In many ways, these people are the last of their kind." - "Eagle Scouts" Kill Screen 7: The Great Outdoors

"Situated in the midst of a rolling, ruinous mass of mountains and glaciers, Bayan-Ulgii province in Western Mongolia feels like the edge of the world. A small pocket of Kazakhs have lived here for generations, hunting and migrating with the seasons; unlike their fellow Kazakhs in Kazakhstan or China, their way of life has remained largely untouched by the surge and swell of changing dynasties. Ulgii Kazakhs ride horses, chase down foxes and train eagles to hunt with them. You can see it in their eyes: a ferocity, a pride in their unique heritage. In many ways, these people are the last of their kind."

- "Eagle Scouts" Kill Screen 7: The Great Outdoors

I write, mostly.

After flirting with poetry in college, I settled into a deep comfy groove with fiction and essays and we've been going steady ever since. Words are unsettling, idiosyncratic things with the power to upset and placate. Use them to change minds, shape truths, and paint a picture of one's inner world: it doesn't matter. At the end of the day they're just words. Featured below are a few of mine. 

Our universal language isn’t halted speech, text, or anything else. Modern videogames pay a crude, sporadically transcendent homage to something deeper, more substantial, that we all share.
— "Smartphone vs Wild"

"I don’t watch Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s films to escape reality; like all good fantasy, I delve into these other-worlds to return, invigorated, to this one. Even in the more grounded Ghibli films, there is a palpable awareness of something beyond this plane: the brief, soothing fantasia of Whisper of the Heart (1995) or the almost self-conscious serendipity of From Up on Poppy Hill (2011). When I sit down to watch Castle in the Sky (1986) I look at distant mountains and feel the explorer’s pulse, the desire to search out unfound things for the pure joy of it. At its core, most every Ghibli film describes some pure, wordless drive in the human experience and makes it move in brilliant color and music onscreen."

- "Ghibli's Moving World" Christ and Pop Culture 09.08.14

In Manetowak (Menominee: Ma-ni-to-woc meaning "Place of the Spirits"), a man searches for his missing wife while a series of murders unfolds in a small Wisconsin town. Horrific dreams, haunted history, occasional levity. A black river, a depthless bog, occasional visits from inner demons drive our man down a slow descent into the Menominee underworld.

Conceived in 2010 and written steadily since, Manetowak is my first novel. Inspired by hell, small town detective procedurals, the paper mill town of Mosinee WI and personal grief, the book is equal parts metaphysical thriller and meditation on loss. 

Currently, the book is in the midst of heavy revision before being reviewed by publishers. Please sign up for the mailing list to get regular updates and promotional materials as it nears completion.