Joseph Young’s Easter Rabbit is available for pre-order from Publishing Genius. It’s a beautiful book of micro-fictions, most no longer than fifty words and none longer than two-hundred. Young’s micros are dominated by He and She scenes ranging from the domestic to the absurd and to the absurdly cruel as in “Loss”:
She burned the shirt in the backyard, the green smoke an ugly whiplash, the buttons popping. I still don’t get it, he said. What? That I have one less shirt? The fire was pale, shining on her arms.
Many things are going on in between the lines, but the words and images are precise with ‘whiplash’ overlaying the whole as the sensation in worn relationships such as this.
Elsewhere water is dominant in the ninety-plus micros. Rivers, eddys, streams, lakes, ice sheets. As is nature itself: tadpoles flip, squirrels jump about, there is a wounded horse.
In “Ascension” Young portrays the mystery of nature and how the observer observes that which falls away in decay:
How many animals, she said, you think live in this woods? How much flesh? They thought of the birds, the rats, the snakes, the deer, the thousand bugs piled over the ground, squeezed among the leaves.
My favorite is “The Willful Child,” a micro that encompasses so many gothic images and startling emotions you think you’ve read a dose of Flannery O’Connor”
Her doctor told her it was the bite of a brown recluse, the dime-sized wound on her palm. She believed this, knowing that if there were a god, he’d come to her as a spider. Of course, she knew there wasn’t, and as the wound deepened and went purple, her heart refused to give it blood. She lay gaping on the bathroom floor, her hand the look of dead roses, her body an excitement of shudders. Help, she told her father through the telephone, I’m sorry for everything I’ve done.
It is a tender piece but not maudlin. The scared child is realizing what the world can do, how it can take away, even end things. These micros refuse any sense of completion. They live in the actions of the characters, in the details of the river or forest, and in the Beckettian/Pinteresque bits of dialogue. They are story and poetry and they describe a universe in mourning for its own mysteries, a human race run down but capable of enchantment. Joseph Young said he started out writing traditional length stories but he has found his niche in this powerful, evocative collection.