Smoking With Joseph Young

Read the Story December 15, 2005

I know the gym guy. He scares me too. Tell me about your experiences with “gym guys.”

He’s really the guy who scares me with his confidence. I’m not athletic, but there’s something about athletic types, especially ones getting a little older, coaches and the like, that I envy a bit. They have that directness about them, a blunt way of dealing with things–at least on the court or field–the way they make decisions about players or plays, the way they yell and stomp up and down the sideline, the way they celebrate. They seem so self-contained, within themselves. That kind of confidence, even if it’s only a projection, is a little scary.

What surprises you about your writing these days?—about how “Ice” turned out?

Each story I finish is kind of a happy surprise, surprised I managed it and happy I did. After a several month break from writing, that happiness is back. I love seeing what threads out from me, I really do. Being in contact with the place where the words come from is like religion.

“…the Christmas heart.” The perfect ending. When did you know the story would end there? How’d you think of that image? It’s amazing.

When I got to the last paragraph in the story, when I saw that it was going to be the last paragraph, I decided I needed something to tie back to the beginning, to the fact that I’d set it on Christmas Eve. I didn’t know how that’d work though until I put that last line down. I don’t think I”thought” of that line, or that image, at all though, in the sense of consciously deciding on it. I decided to keep it once it popped up, but like usual, it came out of that black box.

You mention in your bio that “Ice” is the ninth story of a Flash ABC. What can you tell us about that work? How’s it going? What are the going-ons at josephyoung.net? And what the heck will you do with “X”?

As you’ve guessed, it’s an idea I have of writing one flash story for each letter of the alphabet. It’s going well. I haven’t made it past “I” yet, but I’ve been going back and raking over some of the earlier letters, revising and hopefully tightening. Maybe I’ll do Xanthan Gum for X. What do you mean what’s going on at josephyoung.net? What have you heard? Am I in trouble? What have Paul and Ringo told you?

A new year approaches (yikes!). So, what’s the best that 2005 had to offer in literature, web sites, music, movies, television, DVD, and the like? Also, any predictions for 2006? And we’d love to hear your New Year’s resolution.

Can I do new to me? I’m not nearly avant-garde enough to do new in all these categories.

CD: This one I can do as “new.” Twin Cinema by The New Pornographers. Carl Newman is unbearably talented, a pop music genius. Add to that the goosebumping voice of Neko Case, and it’s an amazing CD. They were my year’s best show, too.

Book: I’ll choose Once, photos and text by Wim Wenders for this one. Not brand new, but my friends gave it to me for my birthday this year. Wenders, as we already know, has an amazing eye, and he adds to his photographs these tiny true stories, flashes really, told in simple, evocative language.

Kid’s book: Bruno Munari’s Zoo. Simple, bold illustrations and text that is sometimes sublime. His captions for the birds seeking shelter under the elephant or the fox hiding from the furrier are really cool, like poetry, or flash.

Website: John Berger mentioned Russian painter Niko Pirosmani in an essay I read recently. His paintings are gorgeous: www.steele.com/pirosmani/. Also: www.ldj.tm.fr/munari/index.htm.

DVD/TV: My friend got the 5 hour Swedish television “mini-series” version of Fanny and Alexander that came out this time last year, and he’s been holding out for months, “until it gets cold,” to watch it. I’m chopping at the bit.

As for resolutions, I’ve never done one before. Maybe I’ll resolve to be resolute.

About the Author:

Joseph Young writes microfiction in Baltimore. His work has recently appeared in Lamination Colony, Wigleaf, and FRiGG, and he has work forthcoming in Cake Train and Grey Sparrow Journal. A volume of his microfiction, "Easter Rabbit," will be published by Publishing Genius Press in December 2009.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.