The Thing I Was Trying to Tell You (paperback) by Joseph Young



Smokelong Quarterly by Erin Vachon

In the end, Young’s flash argues for the necessity of storytelling, and its retelling. Empathy requires imagination, seeing by stretching outside the self …

Free State Review by Jessica Bonder

In an ancient parable, a group of blind men touch an elephant they’ve never before encountered. Each takes his limited experience of the animal to be the absolute truth. Maybe this is what Young is getting at in his singular collection.

The Thing I Was Trying To Tell You is a collection of 62 very short pieces, mostly fiction, some found prose, an unreasonably short play. The pieces range from the character driven, to the abstract and conceptual, the absurd, the metaphysical, the corporeal. Language adjusts—as it will: lean and clean, poetic or memetic. You wonder, who is the character? A pill bug, a sweet brain-damaged boy, The Misfit of O’Connor. You say, how do we know what we know? How do we tell it to each other? This is unclear. The world is large and lovely, so sweetly broken.

Advance Praise

“Each of the deep-souled and uncannily precise prose miniatures in this bountiful collection boils down a novel’s worth of human tumults and entanglements to a crucial, illuminant moment—and with all the calming and foreordained feel of a haiku. Joseph Young is a master of the form.” —Garielle Lutz, author of The Complete Gary Lutz

“These are wild and wonderful little stories.” —Sherrie Flick, editor of Flash Fiction America

“You tend to forget all the things even incredibly brief stories can do until a book like this comes along—breezy, thundering, emotionally resonant, formally inventive.”

—Mark Leidner, author of Returning the Sword to the Stone

“If the page is a world, then the words are the first, careful steps of encounter. You feel this, reading a Joseph Young story—feel the odd delicate urgency of the visions and rhythms by which it takes hold. These are songs of the daylife, the sidlelife. Poems of the live human moment. I look for something new in a writer of flash fiction. Joseph Young has that: he’s an original, for sure.”

—Scott Garson, editor of Wigleaf, author of Is That You, John Wayne?

Additional information

Weight5 oz
Dimensions7 × 5 × .375 in



5×7" Paperback
158 Pages