John Young's FIRE IN THE FIELD AND OTHER STORIES--Out June 15, 2021


In Praise of Fire in the Field and Other Stories


I really did enjoy, no, love John Young’s stories; they are quite magical and written with amazing clarity. Each story is filled with epiphanies large and small.  Poignant and elegiac, Young's writing is smooth and clear and deeply moving, with flashes of humor and deep empathy for lovingly created characters. These stories are worthy heirs to those of John Cheever and John Updike.

-- Daniel Brown, Editor, Aeqai


              John Young follows his fine first novel, When the Coin Is In the Air, with a book of stories of middle Americans faced with  decisions - moral, ethical, romantic, financial  - "while the coin is in the air."

-- Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties and How Do We Know When Its God?


          I said Let me read a few minutes of these stories before I start dinner. At midnight I was still crying, laughing, and fond of Young's ability to take me with him.

          I entered a furniture repair shop rife with lies, the innards of a rotting pumpkin, a chainsaw-accident scene, 12 acres of burning hay.

         At last, a father-son story that abandons schmaltz and tackles hilarity; bored-couple syndrome without melodrama; dialog so real I forgot I was in my living room.

        That's my old minister, I thought, my neighbor, my sister-in-law, ME! Young focuses his people-reading and peers right through me, directing his spotlight onto my pride, mistakes and miseries.
Unique turns of phrase such as "slowly cooking in the heat of anger. . . .." and "lifting a layer of snow like a sheet on a clothesline" add as much impact as his uncanny understanding of who we are. 
           -- Connie Shakalis, Columnist, The Bloomington Herald-Times
          There's so much to like in this "album." The stories are well plotted and engrossing, the characters interesting, and the writing stunning.  Young has unusual skill with language, an ear for voices, and a way with images.  I like the shifts in perspective, the way protagonists struggle with the ethical implications of their actions, the themes of competition and sexual jealousy, and the way some seem satisfied with their positions in life  (like the joy of being a mailman) while their partners are restless, wanting something they think has a higher status.  Keeping the tone of the whole, each story provides a surprising shift in the nature of the dilemmas it addresses. My current favorite, the closing story, "In a Delicate Condition," is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. 

           --Joanna Marshall, Retired Professor of English Literature, University of Puerto Rico


As one story progresses to the next, Young’s deceptively simple voice evolves.  The innocent peculiarities become more complex, and the stories deepen shockingly — as if fate has caught us, and Young himself, in the best hopes of literature.   Fire in the Field and Other Stories is the real thing.

             --Frederick Dillen, author of the novels,  Hero, Fool, and Beauty


What sets these exquisitely crafted stories apart is John Young’s keen sense of place and his ability to make you feel you are there. Not just physical places, but states of mind too. And so you feel conflicted sitting with an anxious teenager talking with her mother. You are afraid alongside a boy chasing an angry father. You are bereft as you gaze upon the empty chair of the only friend who really understood you.  In these 16 superb stories, you won’t just read about such situations.  You’ll be immersed in them. You’ll be transported. 

           --Don Tassone, author of Francesca


Fire in the Field and Other Stories by John Young is an elegant, wry, wise, witty collection that deserves a place among the best work being produced today. These are quintessentially middle-American stories with richly textured characters struggling to navigate the complex, morally compromised world in which they live. Young is a writer who knows his craft and deserves the attention of a wide audience.  

             --Patricia Averbach,  author of Resurrecting Rain  


 A Gift from John Updike to a Young Writer  


When our author was young and living in Beverly, Massachusetts, he got to know John Updike. When the story which now comes first in this collection, “The Antique Deal,” was published in Yankee back in 1998, the famous writer sent this note--typed on a card, signed, with two possible pronunciations of "patina" doodled below the signature:

Congratulations; it’s a lovely story, full of fine furniture details. It made me think I should change professions, but I’ll have to learn how to pronounce ‘patina.’ Appearing in Yankee is a fine honor, even if some of the editing drew blood. It’s a bloody business, in a way.


       Best wishes,

       John Updike