Boneyard: Who is Jake Yoder?
Author: William Johnson
October 13, 2011
Post-Modern Meta Alert! Writer Stephen Beachy has not only injected himself as a character into his latest work of fiction, Boneyard (Verse Chorus), he has also cleverly placed himself in the book’s press materials/book trailer.
The press release for Boneyard summarizes the novel:
Jake Yoder, a precocious boy caught between Amish culture and the modern world, sits in his sixth-grade classroom writing stories at the behest of a stern but charismatic teacher. Jake’s stories feature children who are crushed, imprisoned, and distorted, yet somehow flailing around with a kind of bedazzled awe, trying to find a way out. His characters wander through Amish farms, one-room schoolhouses, South American plains, mental institutions, exotic cities, and prisons; his often haunting and beautiful sentences seem constructed to the beat of an obsessive internal rhythm.
Novelist Stephen Beachy frames Jake’s work with commentary from both himself and editor Judith Owsley Brown, in which they offer their very different views on Amish culture, literary context, the use of psychoactive medications for children, Stephen’s own mental health, and the reality of Jake Yoder’s unverified existence
In 2005, writing for New York Magazine, Beachy famously exposed the work of J.T. Leroy as not being composed by “a HIV-positive teen prostitute who had survived years of horrific abuse and crime,” but the work of middle-age writer Laura Albert.
It would seem that Beachy’s past studies into the themes of authorship and identity have cannily seeped into his novel…and his book trailer.