The late Elizabeth Young is one of my favourite writers and critics. Her journalism was published widely and her short stories have featured in various collections. This Christmas I thought I’d post a seasonal short story, an anti-Christmas story if you like, by her – Jonesying – The End, which includes, some of my favourite lines ever:
“He turned up on Xmas Eve. I was feeling sorry for myself. I kept hearing that song on the radio, something like ‘So now it’s Xmas/And what have you done?’ (Fuck all.) It ends balefully – ‘the Xmas you get you deserve’ – so reassuring.”
“How does that hymn go? ‘Change and decay in all around I see …’
Right. I should get that methadone and some extra sleepers and come off. I know I should.
I’ll start tomorrow.”
Young was one of the most gifted literary critics and writers to emerge from the UK over the last 30 years. Very, very sadly she died of Hepatitis C at the age of 51 in 2001. Combining an extraordinarily fierce intellect with a filigree sensitivity, natural unforced writing talent and enormous breadth of literary knowledge. An elegant writer and perhaps too talented for this world.
A collection writing of most of her writing (but not, unfortunately, containing any of her fiction), Pandora’s Handbag, was published by Serpent’s Tail, posthumously, and it is a book that I highly recommend. It is a work of unassuming genius.
Anyway, here is a short story by her: Jonesying – the End, Young’s mordant riposte to the other eponymous Miss Jones, which was published in the Time Out Book of London Short Stories Volume Two, edited by Nicholas Royle (2000).
Her good friend, the writer Stewart Home, who Young described in Pandora’s Handbag, as being a “conceptual artist, installationist, theorist, novelist and all-round cultural terrorist”, wrote a very moving tribute to Young.
I realise that these jpgs are possibly not the best way to present scans online, so I apologise in advance for the legibility, or otherwise, of these scans. If anyone would like me to email them my pdfs of the pages, please contact me.