“Exceptance” is a mystically suspenseful short story printed on broadsheet scrolls, available for $5 at Smith Family Bookstore and Sundance Natural Foods. Batteries not included. Upon opening the scroll you are greeted by a frenzy of neon green block letters and vibrant illustrations, which while loud and literally intruding onto the text, adequately frame the story to create a multidimensional reading experience. While navigating the story, your imagination is supplemented with artwork by fellow OV legends Taylor Johnston and Josh Kennett.
And the story itself ain’t bad. Actually, it’s rather fantastic. Ficklin, also a regular OV contributor, somehow through his zeal for expressing the absurdity of the universe and the human condition, binds the visuals on the broadsheet with his prose to create a tone of lurking anxiety amidst a breezy summertime backdrop. Larry, a prickly yet heavily romantic baby boomer, sits in his apartment with a packed suitcase, ready to “leave” through his high-rise window, when suddenly his flight from existence is interrupted by his twenty-something neighbor Kandis. The beautiful woman is herself at a defining moment in her life, as her unplanned pregnancy progresses in the midst a straining relationship with her partner, who more or less has his own bags packed.
The ensuing challenge for an old man without faith to give farewell advice to a young woman with tangible problems suddenly and inexplicably manifests itself into an explosion of magical realism, which strangely enough isn’t all that ludicrous. It is obvious that Ficklin adores the fantastic- he collects rare editions LOTR and obsesses over Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. His influences are plenty, and their effect on the writer is shown in more ways than one can count. Larry, the cool antihero, is the fusion of an urban farm instructor’s passion for the natural world with Tom Waits’ stoicism. The story is also an incredibly personal statement- every character’s name is derived from someone in Ficklin’s life in Oregon.
While there is much room for Ficklin’s articulation of the abstract to grow, this is a truly ambitious, enjoyable first step. The best part is that all profits go towards the EVERYBODY art collective, which hopes to crank out future collaborations in the near future. In many ways, “Exceptance” is a debut experiment, a genuine labor of love, by some of the most bodacious young freaks our fair city has to offer.