An eight-year-old trauma victim is enlisted as an underground courier, rushing frozen organs through the alleys of Eastern Europe. A young janitor transforms discarded objects into a fantastical, sprawling miniature city until a shocking discovery forces him to rethink his creation. Verge is a group portrait of the marginalized and outcast in moments of crisis.
Yuknavitch leans heavily on her strengths. Once again, the prose and situations are provocative, transgressive and breathtakingly grotesque ... remains diverse and impactful, unlike some collections, where only a few stories shine ... Yuknavitch’s writing is most effective when fueled by lust, power and rage — or, rather, when she’s trying to drive a point home ... Most of these stories are not for the faint of heart. The sex scenes are raw, intense and often viscerally brutal. Though there are some hopeful endings, many of the characters are staring down a barrel of despair. If safe words and cookie-cutter fiction are more your speed, look elsewhere ... For the rest of you, Verge boldly asks some pressing yet unspoken questions ... It also forces us to acknowledge — and even embrace — the unsettling answers.
With the powers of her prose on full, incandescent display, 6½ pages is all Yuknavitch needs to illuminate the connections between the body and the spirit, the fists and the heart, both beating in their losing battles ... In these 20 efficient and affecting stories, Yuknavitch unveils the hidden worlds, layered under the one we know, that can be accessed only via trauma, displacement and pain. There is a vein of the wisdom of the grotesque throughout ... the damaged beauty of these misfits keeps the reader leaning in.
...it is her realism that shocks the senses ... Her stories startle and repulse even as they provoke the reader’s gaze ... Yuknavitch writes with realism’s gimlet eye and horror’s racing heart ... Yuknavitch grounds her existential questions in the flesh. Her attention to the physical — in particular the human body — defines her aesthetic ... Yuknavitch revels in subtext and shows just how much of the world exists in the imagination, the grinding of those powerful, terrible wheels ... A writer must invent a new language to throw her reader off-balance; you can see Yuknavitch trying fresh approaches as she goes along ... Verge reminds the reader constantly of the fact that even while reading we cannot escape the self, not fully. Yuknavitch expects collaboration. What type of book does this anxious age require? Verge offers an opening gambit, first, see ... Verge contains a succession of mirrors, stories that reflect one way, then another. It’s a kind of antidote to the binary of the present moment, when anxiety drives a hunger for either/or. Yuknavitch delivers no answers, but a series of portraits, moments rendered in vivid detail.