cover image Bleed into Me

Bleed into Me

Stephen Graham Jones, . . Univ. of Nebraska, $22 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-2605-0

Jones paints a bleak picture in this collection about Native American men struggling to break the circle of violence, alcoholism and broken families that circumscribes their lives. "Halloween," the opening short short, sets the tone: a brutal father initiates his six-, nine- and 12-year-old sons into manhood by teaching them to smoke cigarettes and drink beer on national holidays. "Bile" revisits an all-too-familiar Native American tragedy, as a young man and his family wait helplessly while his hospitalized father succumbs to the ravages of cirrhosis. Jones concludes the collection of 17 stories with "Discovering America," a terse, furious summary of discrimination against Native Americans narrated by a young drifter who fumes inside as he encounters stereotyping and racism across the country. The constant threat or fact of violence in these stories combined with Jones's idiosyncratic, staccato prose makes for gripping and visceral reading, but these oblique, barely sketched pieces can also be difficult and disorienting. Still, in his evocation of young men grasping for hope while ruled by anger and helplessness, Jones shows talent. Agent, Kate Garrick. (Sept.)