A Voice for Young Men

. January 24, 2013.

Parents know the importance of creating a love for reading in their children. But boys in particular can be resistant to reading, preferring action to quiet contemplation. With his new story collection, Knuckleheads, coming in May from Michigan-based Dzanc Books, Ann Arbor’s Jeff Kass aims to speak to boys in their own language. Kass teaches English and creative writing at Pioneer High School, and also directs the creative writing program at the Neutral Zone.

Knuckleheads casts an unflinching look at the trials of young manhood—as the title indicates, Kass’ characters don’t always do the right or the wise thing. They struggle with insecurity and competition and self-doubt. They have uneasy relationships with their own bodies. They think about girls. A lot. Kass, a former wrestler, understands the overwhelming need for boys to prove themselves physically, and his characters give real teen boys a mirror in which to see their own lives. Even girls who want a look at how the other half feels should give Knuckleheads a look.

Available May 1. $16.95. www.dzancbooks.org