At any time it shouldn’t be a problem to be accountable for ourselves and the waves we feel inside our own minds. But since we’ve been our own basic problems for all our fortunate lives, those problems weigh as much as our bones and we grow to carry them naturally. “There would always be rats in my life… My sister is also a rat, born in the proper year. So is my youngest son. But he lives with his mother now and is too old to compel visitation. Some rats I need. Some rats I long to stop by and spend some time with me.” (Pg. 79) We know what burrows in us, and as time and distance separate us from what we know, we find ourselves without the atmosphere that was so familiar. And with that, we discover a new fear we can’t dictate, or terror to give to others. Day-to-day, life-by-life, this could be true, and that is why Farts and Daydreams (Joseph Farley, Dumpster Fire Press, 2022) is a journey to take in any life.
We all have spent the last few years hoping the worlds we can choose from were all larger and more liberating, each a total disconnect from where we began to hope for freedom. We’ve wanted more—more love, more of a home (or have easily found a way for home to be a wholly new experience); all possible options for endless happiness are materially impossible and what most are left with in life is what’s routinely possible. The stories in Farts and Daydreams are no different than we are. What populates the pages: Gods and their counterparts, broken puzzle piece lovers; fantasy royalty and once-favorite nostalgia and where those fit within one another in our memories and the crippling PTSD action figures must carry. There’s pestilence in what we believe our plagues to be as well as their real occupation as it’s obvious what they’re truthfully made of as sickness takes toll.
Through all that, we have what’s close to us in “Break In,” “Night of the Living Jesus,” and “The Ice Cream Man Cometh,” and possibly what we celebrate enough to take anywhere and at any time of our own accountable existence. Joseph Farley’s Farts and Daydreams is a serious collection of short fiction that does a fine thing over and over: it doesn’t take itself too seriously; so seriously that it’s difficult to take it out into the world. We struggle with our own stories that we’ve taken years to take too seriously, this book lightens that burden beautifully.