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Old Man Winter: and Other Sordid Tales    by J. T. Yost order for
Old Man Winter
by J. T. Yost
Order:  USA  Can
Birdcage Press, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

J. T. Yost's Old Man Winter: and Other Sordid Tales is exactly that sordid. This stark collection of short graphic tales is full of grotesque despair.

The title story, which is also the longest, concerns an elderly widower who cannot admit that his wife is no longer with him, and that is the only tenuous lifeline he has. All Is Forgiven tells a very short tale about a scientist doing bizarre research on animals, who prove they are there for him despite everything he has done to them.

My favorite story in the collection was the autobiographical Logging Sanjay about two friends who pull pranks on another friend. This was then followed by the saddest tale in the bunch, Roadtrip, which will tug on the heartstrings of even the most carnivorous. The collection ends with the pair Running Away to the Circus and Running Away from the Circus, in which the story of a boy who runs away and the story of an elephant sent to the circus are portrayed on one page each.

While this collection is not for the faint of heart especially those who strongly support animal rights it cannot be denied that Yost knows how to tell a tale with only a few words. Three of the stories All Is Forgiven, Roadtrip, and Running Away from the Circus - are told succinctly with absolutely no words at all. Yost's art is stark and without needless decoration, which adds to the despair in these tales.

Old Man Winter and Other Sordid Tales is not for everyone. However, once you read it, J. T. Yost's images will stay with you for a long, long time.

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