In his debut Collection, Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever, Justin Taylor channels a few old chestnuts, (I’ve only just gotten started with this book) but it immediately impressed this reader with a nicely chiseled style that’s refreshingly “no bullshit”.  There’s a hurricane lashing the coast, and Taylor’s narrator tells us about Amber, and some other girls, kissing, screwing, maybe hopeful screwing, and invents a deserted suburban landscape that is immediately recognizable. Amber stares out the window, so do we, of course this story is titled; Amber at the Window in Hurricane Season.

By the time you see what’s going on in the second story, In My Heart I Am Already Gone, and you witness it by noticing the cat hair floating through the air, Taylor informs us that Kyle has been hired to kill his cousin’s cat.  There is a kind of arrested development here, that permeates the first three stories, and carries right over into the fourth.  There aren’t many instances where comic books, or Star Wars enters into the picture, but I get the feeling that these men can’t get out of their late teens, or early twenties because they haven’t been giving good examples of how to do it, or chances to forge ahead, they all seem afraid to make mistakes. Kyle looks like he’s breaking out of his youth and doing whatever comes to mind, which is why killing a cat is the only thing that happens to him in this story, and he wants to fuck his cousin. Not an unusual emotion, to be sure, cousins have been going at it for years, but Kyle wants to be cool, and subversive, when it comes to breaking his cousin in. I’m probably shading this a little on the sick side, but Kyle knows he’s never leaving town, so why not let his emotion out. Again, these men don’t know what to do with each other, so they act naturally, which is natural to them, and odd to us.  The chestnuts I spoke of earlier are Carver and Barthelme, who have influenced Taylor with a sparse style, and little bit of quirky taste, but nothing that’s strange. I’ve never had an appetite for Barthelme, but David Gates gives a great quote, and if you’ve read Jernigan, than you’ll love this book.  I’m probably holding back most of my compliments on this collection because the NYT gave away everything except free copies of the book.  As far as affordability goes, you can’t go wrong with this, and oh yeah, I wish I could write like this when I was Mr. Taylor’s age. -JR

TAGS: , , , , , ,

3G1B is the collaboration of four friends and colleagues in the book business. Together, they review books and stories, interview authors, and maintain an ongoing conversation about publishing, bookselling, writing, pr, and nearly anything else.

JONATHAN EVISON is the author of All About Lulu and West of Here and TNB's Executive Editor. He likes rabbits. He also likes being the ambiguous fourth guy in the “Three Guys” triumvirate. He is the founder of the secret society, The Fiction Files (if he told, he’d have to kill you). He has a website, but it’s old. Just google him.

DENNIS HARITOU has bought books for Barnes and Noble for seven years, for warehouse clubs for five, and has led a book club. He is currently Director of Merchandise at Bookazine.

JASON CHAMBERS has been in the book business for over fifteen years, including tenures as General Manager/Buyer at Book Peddlers in Athens, GA, and seven years as a Buyer and Merchandise Manager at Bookazine. He now works as an bookstore consultant and occasional web designer.

JASON RICE has worked in the book business for ten years at Random House in sales and marketing and Barnes & Noble as a community relations manager. Currently he is an Assistant Sales Manager and Buyer at Bookazine. His fiction has appeared in several literary magazines online and in print. He was once the pseudonymous book reviewer Frank Bascombe for Ain’t It Cool News. He’s taught photography to American students in the South of France, worked as a bicycle messenger in New York City, and for a long time worked very hard in the film & television business in NYC. Production experience includes the television shows Pete & Pete, Can We Shop ( Joan Rivers' old shopping show), and the films The Pallbearer, Flirting With Disaster, and countless commercials---even a Christina Applegate movie that went straight to video.

One response to “Too Young To Be This Good”

  1. Tom Hansen says:

    Dead cats? I might have to check this out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *