Young God

I don’t think I’ve read a book as troubling yet gripping as this one before.

“Young God” by Katherine Faw Morris is a very short book that is anything but ‘light reading.’ It was recommended to me by a friend on the basis it included “Poverty, terror, hard drugs, young teen prostitutes, the general scum of humanity,” and it certainly lived up to those qualities.

It’s a book that isn’t scared to just be extremely blunt in dealing with generally taboo topics.  It’s designed to  make you feel uncomfortable yet compelled to read further and see how many more boundaries can be broken in the short ride of this story.

It’s a book with such beautiful prose that the shocking subject matter is most definitely earned.  To give an idea of the shocking matter, the protagonist, a 13 yr old girl named Nikki, within the first ten pages, sees her mother die then has sex with her now-dead mother’s boyfriend.  Then steals his drugs and his car and drives to her father’s place.

The whole ride is only about 22000 words.  It’s a single-sitting read, but it’s so gripping and gritty that when I closed the back cover I felt like I had come out of something with far more time investment anyway.  And that’s because this novella carried no less emotional devastation than most ten book series.

Despite the short word length, there was no scarcity of things happening.  Katherine managed to evoke characters and events in as few words as possible, sometimes having only a single sentence on a page to cover an important emotional change.

There is no word out of place, nothing extraneous and nothing missing.  It is exactly right and exactly what it needs to be.  The writing is simple but gorgeous, minimal but evocative.  The characters are fleshed out in such interesting ways, with no dull 2-page character description slogs to read through.  Instead, she shows the characters through their most important actions and traits.

Dialogue is phenomenal.  There’s so much personality in everything characters say.

This book is a hurricane of depravity and fears nothing.  And it’s such a short read, if you’re on the fence about it, you may as well go ahead.

Be forewarned though: “Young God” is full of scum scraped from the bottom of the cesspit.  People easily discomfitted by topics such as “teenage prostitution” should not read it.

5/5 for it’s brevity and expert craft with words, and the lack thereof.

Born from Cynicism and Criticism

When I was younger, I used to read.  A lot.  Every day at school we had a “reading break” where for 30-45 minutes the teacher expected absolute silence except the crunch of turning pages as 30-odd students read their current book.

I was the one who always had the big-kid books that you could use to knock someone out with just the first quarter of pages.  Or if I read a smaller book, I’d have a different one by the next day because I just blasted through them.

Once the reading break was over, the teacher would call the students’ attentions and ask the books be put away, pay attention to me and the board now, we’re gonna talk about multiplication tables now.

As all the students shut their books, slipped them into the little cubbies hanging beneath the desks, and pulled out a piece of paper and pencil to copy down what the teacher was writing up on the board, I would just turn to the next page.

The teacher would be ten minutes into her lesson when finally she would sweep her gaze across the class and spot me, the only one with a book open, the only one not looking up at her.  Then I’d hear it.

“Blerrn”.

I was so consumed by the book that when she called my name it was just a distant, muffled noise.  It wasn’t until the teacher walked down the aisle of desks, stood beside me and said my name again right in my ear that I’d look up from those pages and into her somewhat amused, mostly exasperated face.

“Reading ended ten minutes ago,” she told me.

“Oops,” I said.

And then I’d pull out a piece of paper, a pencil, quickly copy down what was on the board and, as soon as her back was turned, look back at the pages of the book.

Only this time I’d read a couple sentences, look back up, keep it discreet.  Y’know?

Anyways, I was that kid.  Doctors called it being a fucking basket case being a healthy child with a functional level of ADHD.

Really I just didn’t care about school and what we were learning.  It’s not that I had troubles focusing.  My trouble was that I focused on the wrong things.

Like books.  And reading.

Anyways, my point is, I really loved stories as a young ‘un, from observing them through books and shows to creating my own through lego pieces and imagination.  And then eventually through writing.

As I grew up I started to become more and more interested in the actual craft behind telling stories through different mediums.  I started learning what makes for good writing and what doesn’t, and started noticing inexcusable writing crimes in books I read.  I became cynical and critical.

This blog is all about that.  That cynicism and criticism, in my journey to continue learning good craft from bad craft through close analyses, to pinpoint exact wrongdoings and articulate my feelings about them.

It is that and it is also an exercise in reviewing story items I have completed.  It is a way for me to organize my own thoughts about what I have just experienced and to go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of it in the hope that it improves my own writing.

And finally, it is an excuse to keep my fingers active on the keyboard.

My goal is to write a review for as many things I can, as often as possible.  Every book I read, every movie I watch, and so on.

Of course, goals are meant to be pursued, but not exactly obtained.  I’ll try my darnedest, but sometimes my darnedest ain’t darned enough, and sometimes there’s just too much going on to review everything.

But I just won’t talk about what I don’t review.  Nobody needs to know I’m slacking off.  A fundamental skill in life is to seem like you’re on top of your game.  Not actually be on it, but appear so.  What do you think facebook is for?  It’s to filter the bad from your life and make a comprehensive catalogue of the good in your life, and make it seem like that is your whole life.

Everything everyone ever does is a facade.  Remember that.

And on that note, let’s start looking on top of our game.  Let’s get to some darned reviews.

Next week.

When I’ve consumed something that I can regurgitate in your faces.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy what is to come.

🙂