by Clea Young
October 1, 2016
In Teardown, Clea Young navigates the whitewater of relationships—familial and romantic, between friends old and new.
Her stories seize on instances that, at the outset, appear benign—a woman encountering an old boyfriend on a BC ferry, a father chaperoning his daughter’s class on a field trip, a young waitress’ burgeoning friendship with a co-worker—but are in fact fraught, often pivotal times in her characters’ lives.
The stories in this arresting debut collection are populated with people you know and people you’ve been. They’re arguing about lamps in IKEA, drinking gin and tonics on a dock in summer, unemployed and without prospects. But under Young’s astute gaze they are anything but ordinary. With sharp, invigorated prose she guides us through shoals and rapids alike, along the way paying homage to our missteps, our foibles, and ultimately to the complicated hearts that comprise a life.
Advance praise for Teardown
“Clea Young’s debut story collection Teardown is out-and-out beautiful. Marital bliss and blitzed marriages, smoking sex, friendship between women, between children; real love in the furniture aisle—all this and the opposite of all this—vulnerability, loneliness, all the tough/tender moments of pregnancy and parenthood, desire gone cold; the polar dip after the hot tub. These stories are elegant, clear-eyed, wry or hilarious, and ultra-attentive to the way we live now. Read this! These are the kind of stories that become a part of you!”
— Lisa Moore, author of Caught
“By turns playful and tragic, Teardown captures a multitude of lives on the cusp of critical change. Young’s prose is nimble, her dialog smart. This is a remarkable debut.”
— Billie Livingston, author of The Crooked Heart of Mercy
“Clea Young writes vivid, whip-smart stories about people coping with the perils and pitfalls of modern life. I was bowled over by her talent as a storyteller and a stylist. Fans of Ann Beattie and Jennifer Egan will rejoice. A huge thumbs-up for Teardown.”
— Neil Smith, author of Boo
“Clea Young’s intelligent stories sparkle with life… clever and imaginative, an absolutely addictive read.”
— Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
“Young’s characters are people in motion, existing before and after our brief opportunity to peer into their lives. Beautifully nuanced, wise and energetic, this collection provides a rare and resonant encounter with characters we seem to understand everything—and nothing—about; as evident and unknowable as ourselves.”
—Miranda Hill, author of Sleeping Funny
Praise for individual stories in Teardown
“In Clea Young’s ‘Chaperone,’ a doormat of a dad accompanies young students on a field trip to a hot springs resort. After a showdown with his defiant fourteen-year-old daughter, the father realizes that to keep his family together, he must be more than merely a chaperone in the girl’s life. Clea Young nails the snarkiness of teens testing their independence and the weariness of a father baffled by his responsibilities. But what makes the story really shine is its honesty and empathy.”
—Excerpted from The Journey Prize Stories 20
Selected by Lynn Coady, Heather O’Neill, and Neil Smith
“Clea Young’s ‘Split’ is spring-loaded with tension, its sentences taut enough to hold a tightrope walker, as two old friends—one a new mother, the other hugely ambivalent about babies—talk about sex (‘The organic track of Jed’s tongue like snail-glue over her body was enough.’) and who they used to be.”
—Excerpted from The Journey Prize Stories 18
Selected by Steven Galloway, Zsuzsi Gartner and Annabel Lyon
Reviews and interviews
“The stories in Teardown proceed at a quick pace; rich in complexity, description and dialogue… The complexity of relationships is at the core of all of them—at times raw, and other times romantic and hopeful… Teardown succeeds by revealing how scary and resilient love can be.” — BC Bookworld, Spring 2017
“[O]ne of the signal aspects of her writing is the lightness with which it unfurls its thematic subtext. Young’s stories display a surface insouciance that is somewhat deceptive: The individual pieces are so entertaining, their execution so apparently effortless, that it is only in retrospect that they seem to accrue a deeper, more profound meaning.” — Globe and Mail, December 30, 2016.
“Many of Young’s stories are about this specific time in our lives; deep into marriage, but not deep enough to have a balanced perspective of parenthood within marriage… Young feels comfortable in the realm of the relationship, and this is where her storytelling truly shines.” — I’ve Read This, November 11, 2016.
“Young uses these non-events as catalysts for her many-layered characters, who are anything but ordinary. When the dust settles, the outcomes are shocking, hilarious, heart-rending, or all three. And there’s definitely some borderline lunatic behaviour.” — Winnipeg Free Press, November 5, 2016.
“From first (“Teardown”) to last (“Firestorm”), the dozen witty stories of Clea Young’s debut collection are compelling snapshots: you want to look and then look at them once again…. [Young is] a capable provocateur.” — Vancouver Sun, October 14, 2016.
“From IKEA trips to imbibing dockside to impending parenthood, the almost uncomfortably recognizable characters in the twelve stories in Young’s collection err and err again, but stumble towards being better.” — All Lit Up, October 7, 2016.