What does it mean to be American, Californian, queer, even creative, in an era of tweeted populism and hashtags? Miah Jeffra examines our new and rapidly changing public life by questioning a few fundamentals—perception, memory, identity, violence, love—in all their complexity, and in their relationship to one other. THE FIRST CHURCH OF WHAT'S HAPPENING is a love letter to humanity and its resilience, even as it wades through divisive politics, social media and technological dissociation.
Lambda Literary Review
"In First Church, loneliness and innocence, as well as sensuality and eroticism, exist side by side, merging effortlessly into each other. Jeffra doesn’t shy away from the body, and the incisiveness of his style forces the reader to consider their own experience as a human animal."
"Miah Jeffra does not use his imagination to protect himself or to protect us. Instead, he gives us stories of reckless tenderness and anger and sorrow and lust—that overflow with images of wonder and desire. How wonderful!"
"A gem of an essay collection, shot through with humor, anger, and a deep, deep love—for men, for humanity, for language. In lush, risk-taking prose, Jeffra explores what it means to be queer, alive, and struggling in high-tech, low-empathy America. He takes the pulse of the now and quickens it with this sparkling debut."
"Through these dexterously choreographed essays, Miah Jeffra perfects a grim exuberance that comes to suggest a new optimism. He writes: 'We made the Titanic, we made the Hindenburg, we made the Challenger Shuttle. We made Fukushima. We make love.' Certainly, the blood kinship of love and disaster—each here driven by human ambition for more self—animates this passage. But what deepens it is the breadth of Jeffra’s 'we.' There is generosity here despite our capacities for self-righteousness, predation, and social inequity. I leave The First Church of What’s Happening believing that what Jeffra evangelizes is resilience as a necessity, not a virtue."
"Vision is a tricky enterprise. So writes Miah Jeffra in his sparkling new collection. In these lyrical essays Jeffra’s quick eye catches what we often glide by, slide by, forget to notice, ignore. In these true to life, truer than life stories he shifts our focus from the obvious, the flash, the façade, to the subtle, background, underground, under skin tales where truer, deeper meaning resides. Luminous moments that often get less fanfare shine forth, rendered by a narrator who doesn’t always shout look at me, me, me, but instead look at us, us, us. All of us; the fragile, the fallible, the lovely, the strange. This book not only expands our visual field but our intellectual, emotional and imaginative fields as well. Go see."