A lot has happened since my last entry. Something about the Animal has been released and I now have twenty copies of my own to paw with sweaty, eager hands (or preferably for other people to). I am now thinking about the Vancouver launch on June 5 (two days before my **th birthday) and exactly how much to ham it up. I just finished a clowning course as part of a Certificate I am working towards and am wondering how to develop a more lasting relationship between my black fine line marker and my [virtual] red nose. One of the things we studied was the “swing” between laughter and tears, and I realize most of my favourite stories are calibrated somewhere along that line. Although having said that I just finished reading the amazing Colm Toibin’s The Empty Family, a collection of stories which exists on a different continuum between tenderness and reserve. Beautifully quiet and yet seething. The final story, “The Street,” about the relationship which develops between two Pakistani migrant workers in Spain, is especially affecting, swinging as it does between dread and hope. I was also struck by how the collection resonates so well as a whole, each story seemingly indispensable to the overall effect. Not all story collections work like this, and stories are not always written with a book in mind. But when the parts work together (without gimmickry) to create an additional whole it’s very satisfying. The book-as-a-whole: an imagined, cathedral-like space within which the swinging energies of individual stories can resonate. Ding, dong: hopefully not too literally.
Speaking of which, Animal has already been reviewed in Quill and Quire, and one story from the book is also addressed here. Later this month I will also be guest editing at The Afterword, the National Post’s literary blog, and in June commenting in the Fiction Craft column of Open Book Ontario. I also have a review published in this month’s Literary Review of Canada. Also check out the latest issue of The New Quarterly, which features Peter Sanger’s gorgeous essay and horse poems alongside the title story of my collection, and an essay about how the story was written, plus lots of other fantastic stuff.
More about the serious ladies of fiction soon.