amongst books

amongst books

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Front & Centre's 25th issue hits the streets

F&C's 25th issue schmecks like F&C always schmecks. good writing, not sappy, not fancy, just plain stories of a realistic bent from the rough side of the tracks.
In the opening interview with writing couple Alexandra Leggat and Salvatore Difalco about his latest book The Mountie of Niagara Falls and Other Brief Stories put out by Anvil Press, Salvatore Difalco says

"Frankly, I don't know what edgy means any more. I don't know if writers in Canada are really capable or permitted to write edgy fiction. But then again, that word is problematic, isn't it? If it means you're writing from the margins ... either by choice or circumstance, well, okay. If it means you're willing to explore certain darker regions of the human psyche and the human condition, I guess it's as efficient an adjective as any." ...

I think F&C is always questioning the idea of edgy in every issue. The stories deal with unpleasant or weird situations. They make you squirm.

In The Balcony Zsolt Alapi writes a memorable piece about a guy's obsession with a Russian woman's underwear, hanging on a clothes line. Her ass sags, there's sweat and hair. From his window, the guy watches her get fucked by her husband at the kitchen sink. There's even lyric beauty in this story, the sight of the blue panty dancing around like angry semaphores on the clothes line. We get a close up of how this guy's mind works, his sexual excitement at the thought of this woman's underwear. His transgressive behaviour. He doesn't just watch. It's a spare story that doesn't shy away from portraying the less than beautiful aspects of life.

David Burdett's The Road to Happy Destiny is a wry piece that documents an alcoholic's return to the bottle, in an unsavoury miserable life. The last line, which I'm not going to reveal to you, is probably one of the best final sentences I've read in fiction. I may have to steal it, it's so good. There's a build up in this story and it doesn't tie up in some neat little Hollywood or old ladies drinking tea Canadian fiction kind of way.

The star of the show for me was Daniel McIsaac's Old Christmas. After reading it, i just wanted to read everything the man has ever written. A young woman hawking hot dogs in Vancouver gets knocked up. What I loved about this was the woman's voice, her language and the writer's clear empathy for her. He makes you care.

There's a lot more in this issue. Good to see the fine writing of Jeremy Hanson-Finger, Stacey Madden's weird tale Mammory Man. So much good stuff.

It's perfect bound this time around, likely to celebrate the fact that this is the 25th issue. No fanfare here, no patting on the back by the editors Matthew Firth and Bill Brown, just good stories and intelligent reviews. Get a copy via Black Bile Press; better yet, subscribe.

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