Author: Loney, Matthew R
Date published: October 1, 2010
The End of the Ice Age by Terence Young, $19.95, 165 pgs, bibliloasis.com
Evolutionary shifts mark the territory of Terence Young's second collection of short stories, The End of the Ice Age. Each character feels as though they're looking at the Earth anew, like disoriented creatures emerging from their burrows after the spring thaw: But they are at home in their quotidian cloudiness, and perhaps do not even wish to leave it. It is the reader who materializes from the fog by way of Young's prestidigitation: The world has changed, that's certain, and this newness is approached with trepidation.
This haze works in the collection's favour, especially in such standout stories as "That Time ofYear" where time freezes and the fears of a woman swimming naked with her husband are cleaved open in a collage of "what-ifs." Culminating in a petty argument about past lovers, the story exposes this woman's anxiety as a hypothermic symptom that ultimately brings us to sympathize with her.
"Rumors of Human Sacrifice" and "Infestation" pit humanity against their natural counterparts, up-ending our notions of primitivi sm and freedom: "People will fuck up anything if you give them enough time." Y)ung requires the reader to work at piecing together the fragments he unearths, often leaving substantial gaps between the sections of literary bone; we risk assembling a hydra if we rush the process.
Yet the devices he uses gradually become more familiar as the collection progresses, until what once were impressive feats become practiced slights-of-hand. A smart, pithy and important collection that begs a second (or third) reading, bung's The End of the Ice Age opens a crevasse in Can Lit short-story telling - we fall in, amused, bewildered and transfigured. (Matthew R. Loney)