It has been a long while since I have reviewed a set of short stories. I am immensely happy that I chose to break my unintentional short story drought with Mark Victor Young’s incessantly charming “Awkward Stages .”
Young’s decision to depict Da Vinci’s Vetruvian Man on the cover is a gutsy one. It evokes a heralding of classic art, but also subliminally asks the reader to question what makes up the composition of the ideal human form. Therefore, when the reader gets to the first short story entitled “Crotch Dogs,” the overarching themes of the goal of perfection and emotional superiority are already lurking.
Each of the short stories are unique and resplendent. Plot devices are subverted and honed like a true master storyteller. Characters are portrayed who are flawed but ambitious, damaged but focused. Young’s obvious ability to breath life into staid situations is what captured my intention and maintained it through to the very last word. By the books end I felt as though I’ve known the author for many years, which for me, is the true sign of a master storyteller.
There isn’t much point in me sharing what my favorite story was because each story touches upon the overwhelmingly wide spectrum of human emotion and suffering. Each carefully selected word that comprise the tales evoke the randomness of the human condition, and reiterates the importance of celebrating each awkward stage that life has to offer.