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Look! Look! Feathers | Word Riot

Look! Look! Feathers

Cover design by Bryan Coffelt

Look! Look! Feathers by Mike Young

$16.95 | 200 Pages | Paperback
ISBN 978-0-9779343-6-2

Order Look! Look! Feathers and Mike Young’s poetry
collection We Are All Good If They Try Hard
(Publishing Genius 2010) for $24.

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A tuba player surfs the web from a cyst on his hand. A town of spilled peaches fields its own game show. A mosquito fogger makes an unlikely friend. The stories in Mike Young’s debut collection Look! Look! Feathers tap into the surreal and sad, the absurd and ragged dreams scratching at the edge of the American heart. Punks drive auctioned police cars, and necklaces of bluebird bones are sold from a roadside van. In these tales of the Pacific Northwest, Young finds magic burrowed under the moss of ordinary life.


“Young hits the mark in this smart, quirky debut collection, where base humanity—like the macho behavior of a high school gym teacher who is revealed to have only one testicle in “The World Doesn’t Smell Like You”—is juxtaposed against a crushing swell of technology and pop culture. Social media, brain-Internet browsers, and reality television all feature in Young’s stories, and institutions like the 24-hour grocery, the “old hotel on Mason Street,” and Facebook are venues for Young’s twisted tales. In “Mosquito Fog,” two online companions arrive at an awkward moment when widower Russell discovers his online confidante, contrary to her online profile, is not his contemporary but a teenage girl. The couple at the center of “Snow You Know and Snow You Don’t” slowly reveal in a letter to their unborn child the strange way they cope with a domestic tragedy. Meanwhile, in “No Such Thing as a Wild Horse,” the transformation of a local fun park “from something rinky-dink into something grand” is held up, albeit wryly, as a beacon of inspiration. This is a slick collection—relevant, wise, and immensely enjoyable.” — Publishers Weekly

Mike Young’s first collection, Look! Look! Feathers, announces a promising young voice. Poetic, insightful, and delightfully honest, Young tells stories … with a vulnerable, esoteric filter reminiscent of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son.” — The Brooklyn Rail

“Young takes to the page with the thrum of life and the mew of nerves, chronicling small town supermarket culture, the new media of voyeurism and exploitation, the kegs in the quarry, the abandoned babies in the medicine cabinet, the waves of drop outs and all the sordid and assorted “dented forks and freezer smells” of life.” — decomP

“The stories in Look! Look! Feathers feel at once devastatingly real and helplessly absurd. Young’s characters are only slightly stranger versions of people you probably know … Fresh and weird, they tug at the reader in all the right places.” —Nylon

“Young’s voice is fearless, and capable of leaving a lasting taste that is equal parts alkaline and sugar … These are lives on the fringe, swaths of Americana teetering on the edge of a dusk that is both magical and sinister.” — The Rumpus

“Young’s first collection of stories share nicely realized settings in Northern California and Oregon that help evoke their time-warp, hippie ethos. And they also share some lovely writing. Add to this mix the fact that the characters are generally likable and often intriguing, and you have a book that shows writerly promise and offers a pleasant read.” — Booklist

“The collection falls somewhere on the short-story map between Barry Hannah and Donald Ray Pollock. Strong voices of rural and suburban yahoos take on a wild poetry of their own. Young’s language is a fun place to be lost.” — Portland Mercury

“This debut collection does what the best fiction should do: it presents real life that slips and breaks into the absurd, the beautiful, and the poetic … Young, through his gift for texture and observation, makes the magical feel ordinary and the mundane, exceptional.” — Mid-American Review

“These stories smack of life and energy and degradation and redemption and death and internet and posture and eggs and bacon and tiny babies and medicine cabinets and drugs and alcohol and America. ” — Gently Read Literature

“Mike Young’s … lingo-fused, brain-twisting, Barry-Hannah-meets-fast-food-nation voice … is one of the only voices I’ve read in contemporary short fiction that actually manages to reflect modern thought in an artful and honest way. It is a voice informed by jokes about testicles, the war in Iraq, commercials for PCs versus Macs, internet chat windows, and Nintendo, and this voice tells emotionally true stories.” — Barn Owl Review

“Young’s characters are hunter-gatherers of the fiction world, trading any normal identification of themselves or their possessions for something both more interesting to us and more useful to them.” — Gigantic Sequins

“Make no mistake, this isn’t participation-ribbon or up-by-your-bootstraps trying; in these dozen stories, Young exposes character after character who are trying to trust. Trusting themselves, trusting adulthood, trusting the internet, trusting the people they just might love, all while suspecting the very suckiest, that with both sides predisposed to fuck things up, maybe the best they can do is try.” — Emprise Review

Look! Look! Feathers is a collection of twelve stories as odd and mysterious and elusive as the memories we carry with us from childhood into adulthood … Young writes with authority. His voice and his words and his sentences feel earned, authentic.” — The Collagist

“Mike Young can write a loud scene where someone bites someone’s lip off, but where the long-lasting meaning emerges, the volume is low, subtle. … Internal conflicts in each story are woven together best through Young’s portrayal of nature and shared histories. Forests, rainfall, snowfall, and local lore bring everybody together. ” — Phoebe


“Mike Young is young and his song is real. This book is full of comedy, radiance and devastation.”
—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

“I believe in Mike Young. I will follow his stories wherever they lead me. They are so fresh and full of the weirdest Americana. If Mike Young were a cult leader, I’d drink his Kool-Aid and it would feel electric.”
—Kevin Sampsell, author of A Common Pornography

“Equal parts stylist and storyteller, Mike Young chronicles the moribund world with a cool voice and a big heart. Wise, engaged, suspenseful, and exuberantly melancholy, his fiction forges a holy path between the Cliffs of Irony and the Swamp of Sentimentality. Here is a newfangled old-fashioned writer whose stories both dazzle and nourish. What a boon, what a bright talent.”
—Chris Bachelder, author of U.S.! and Bear v. Shark

“A fascinating book with lots of stuff in it, all the best stuff, funny stuff. Mike Young writes like the guy in the Viagra ad, the one whose erection is way past its four hours. He’s headed for the emergency room now. Go with him. See what happens.”
—Frederick Barthelme, author of Waveland

Online Excerpts

The Peaches Are Cheap” in Hobart
“Same Heart They Put You In” in The Fanzine
“What the Fuck is an Electrolyte?” in The Collagist
“Mosquito Fog” in the Good Men Project
“Susan White and the Summer of the Gameshow” in Atticus Review
An earlier version of “No Such Thing as a Wild Horse” in Juked

About the Author

Mike Young grew up in Northern California and lives in Northampton, MA. He is also the author of the poetry collection We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius Press 2010). He edits NOÖ Journal, runs Magic Helicopter Press, and writes for HTMLGIANT. Visit him online at