Categories: reviews

Jeffrey Yamaguchi, a zinester turned published author, has crafted Anya Chases Down the End in many forms. The YA novella began as a writing challenge. It morphed as it was read aloud in a writing class, spent time as a published poem, only to be reignited by a collaboration.

What a wonder it is to notice the things that are invisible, to bring attention to the misplaced, the left behind, the misheard word. This novella cultivates the rediscovery of such places and people. Anya, a grinder at a book publishing company, is one such hidden person.

Anya is at the end of her six weeks interning at a publishing house in NYC. At one point she compares herself to a 'sentient being transporting messages and documents from one person to another, nothing more, nothing less.' Her big boss, Francine, has tasked her with picking up champagne for a toast. She is on the verge, in her mind at least, of becoming a little bit visible in her cubicle and in her own life. However, she is actually not a 21 years old college student, but an 18 year old high school graduate without a fake ID.

Her vocabulary ('lark', 'fabulist', 'suckage', 'Hot Max') and the cascade of consequences following her lack of planning give this literary coming-of-age story its teeth. It achieves its bite with a momentum driven by self-referential slapstick, cosmic misadventure and a red plastic cup of office romance.

Write what you know is the writer's adage, and Yamaguchi follows suit. Born in Illinois and raised in California, in his twenties he relocated with his wife to New York. He ended up running marketing and publicity teams of several of the big publishing companies. It's easy to imagine him young and hungry like Anya, poetic hopes dashed by the reality of his day-to-day survival. What a taste of delicious revenge when this novella transforms working for the man into a satisfying and savory snack, the grind itself a feast, no matter the size of the portions.

🖤 Maggie

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