boneyard is my collaboration with a disturbed Amish boy, Jake Yoder. A cross between Kathy Acker and Agota Kristof. Illustrations from The Martyrs Mirror. Battling footnotes.
Jake, a precocious boy caught between Amish culture and the modern world, sits in his middle-school classroom writing stories at the behest of a stern but charismatic teacher. Jake's stories feature children who are crushed, imprisoned, and distorted, and yet somehow flailing around with a kind of bedazzled awe, trying to find a way out. His characters wander through Amish farms, one-room schoolhouses, South American plains, mental institutions, exotic cities, and prisons; his sentences seem constructed to the beat of an obsessive internal rhythm. The strange logic and disturbing shifts in Jake’s tales reveal a young boy processing intense emotional experiences in the wake of his mother's suicide and his own proximity to the schoolroom shootings at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, in 2006. Jake imagines fantastic journeys, magical transformations, and rock stardom as alternatives, it seems, to his own grim reality and the limitations of his life among the Amish.
Read my interview with Tommy Theolynn at Lambda Literary. Read my conversation with Alvin Orloff in The Advocate. A review in the SF Weekly. A review in the East Bay Express. A discussion of boneyard by Daniel Shank Cruz in Mennonite Life. My playlist for boneyard at Largehearted Boy.