In the title story, a young father struggles to escape the specter of his upbringing, yet finds himself pulled towards it as he raises his own son. Raw and unflinching in its portrayal of parenthood, Neil paints a portrait of both tenderness and cruelty, taking the reader on an emotional journey that ends with an astonishing revelation. A Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer, Bradley is increasingly recognized as a master of flash fiction.
"Splattered animals. Carnivorous plants. Lousy jobs. Unrequited love. Bad parents. Sick parents. Dead parents. A body that is 'a crowd waiting for the right words to riot.' Welcome to the world of Neil. Pray, dear reader, you get out alive. Moving, thrilling, and nearly Gothic in its darkness, this book of fatherhood, livelihoods, and family will haunt you long after you've turned the last page."
– David James Poissant, author of The Heaven of Animals
“True to publisher, Whisk(e)y Tit’s vision, J. Bradley’s Neil and Other Stories is a collection of considerable playfulness and beauty, of daring and intellectual rigor. The stories by themselves are exciting, moving, thought-provoking. As a collection, it’s a breathtakingly fresh, innovative thrill-ride.”
– Kathy Fish, author of Rift
"J. Bradley wanders into the darker caves of human experience and comes back with gemstones—chipped, shiny, and reflecting back our own fractured selves."
– Christopher DeWan, author of Hoopty Time Machines
It is easy to admire J. Bradley’s ability to focus on the minute details of life. Scissors chewing through someone’s hair. The spine of a used checkbook. Jelly on a knife. A dead animal in the yard. However, his true talent is being able to create a fully affecting experience within a paragraph or two.
Bradley’s ability to flashback to the narrator’s experiences with own father, while telling the main story of taking care of Neil, is exceptional—especially when you consider he does it in around 200 words.
And for those not similarly afflicted, we feel the ache of empathy — a testament to good writing. It is an accomplished collection that delves into family struggles that have been, are, and will be prevalent in many people’s lives as we try to balance the authority of our parents with the disciplining of our own children.
Jesse Bradley fucks with flash fiction with “Neil and Other Stories”. Merely fucking with flash fiction does not appear to enough for young Jesse for included in the book’s lovely pages are elements of a play, and the unique hybrid of flash fiction meets novel. By going fully into this, Jesse manages to be both personal and playful, revealing moments of his life while still having a sense of humor about it.