Jake Yoder, a precocious boy caught between Amish culture and the modern world, sits in his sixth-grade classroom writing stories at the behest of a stern but charismatic teacher. Jake’s stories feature children who are crushed, imprisoned, and distorted, 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 often haunting and beautiful 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.
Novelist Stephen Beachy frames Jake’s work with commentary from both himself and editor Judith Owsley Brown, in which they offer their very different views on Amish culture, literary context, the use of psychoactive medications for children, Stephen’s own mental health, and the reality of Jake Yoder’s unverified existence.
advance raves for boneyard
““Stephen Beachy is a complete visionary, a sorcerer, a secret weapon. boneyard does for the Amish diaspora what Junot Diaz did for Dominicans with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”Scott Heim
“boneyard is a horrifically alluring monster under the bed. It will draw you in on a bone-deep level; overawe you. Existentially profound and emotionally dangerous, this is a text that will make you surrender to the extremes of the unnameable pleasure at some bottommost outpost of experience from where the human drama can be viewed in an array of its most criminal loveliness and most personal violence.Lonely Christopher
“boneyard is a restless dream of a book, one that lifts away from the dreaming writer only to turn and look back at him, regard him, and make his dream its subject . . . Skeptical of the dreamer, the book carps like a neglected lover, casting doubt on the author’s honesty and motives. This house of mirrors is also a house of cards, which the author brings gleefully crashing down upon himself with baroquely entwined story-lines reminiscent of the best work of Bo Huston or James Purdy.”Matthew Stadler