amongst books

amongst books

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 Starts With Fiction & A Challenge

The first reading of the year that I attended was the Dusty Owl, featuring Toronto short story writer, Kate Sutherland. Kate read from her most recent book of short stories, All In Together Girls (Thistledown Press, 2007).

The story she read “Checking Out” was a compelling tale about a woman with a n’eer do well lover, a familiar story many women can relate to. I enjoyed the story very much, particularly Kate’s wit and the voice of the main character.

I’ve dipped into a few more of these stories and I must say that they are very engaging. One in particular, “Making Love While the Kettle Boils,” was lyrical and sensuous with provocative and memorable imagery. Of particular fun & wit were the apropos crossword puzzle clues and answers throughout the story. Kate’s writing reminds me somewhat of Katherine Govier’s Fables of Brunswick Avenue, something about the intimacy of they way both of them write, the attention to detail and the gentle humour. There’s an edge to her writing, which also reminds me of Matthew Firth’s stories, particularly those in Suburban Pornography.

Speaking of Matthew Firth, Black Bile Press, the small press he runs, recently published three fiction chapbooks , which I read just after the holidays: Hemingway, Early and Late by Gerald Locklin, Being A Greek by David Rose, and The Four-sixteen by Virginia Ashberry. I enjoyed all three of these short stories, particularly Virginia Ashberry’s story about an elderly woman who becomes paranoid and the worry she causes her daughter. I loved the way the trials of this woman ended up tangling with the lives of other lonely people: her daughter, and an old nursing colleague of her daughter’s. All three stories stayed with me.

In the latest issue of Front&Centre (Issue #18, featuring stories by Mark Fleming, Katherine Coldiron, Parker Dorris, Tom Johns, Donald Avery, David Rose and Blas Ulibarri) editor Matthew Firth points out that no Canadians were published this time around. He wonders whether Canadian writers are “destined to go the route of the polar bear: drowned and subsequently silenced amidst the widespread slush of sappy, middle-of-the-road, warm and fuzzy fiction.” Matthew seems to be issuing a challenge to Canadian fiction writers. Send him your edgy stuff and show him we aren’t all huggy bears.

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